Christopher Davidge – The Man who Stopped Thatcher’s Boycott Plans

Christopher Davidge. Photo: British Rowing.

As HTBS reported on 27 December 2014, Christopher Davidge passed away on 22 December, 85 years old. Yesterday, Mike Rowbottom, well-known rowing writer, posted a brilliant article about Davidge and how he did stood firm against the Margaret Thatcher Government’s attempt to stop British rowers to go to the 1980 Moscow Games, not joining the U.S. boycott of the Games. Read Rowbottom’s article here.


  1. I note with interest Davidge’s comment that ” ‘We were up against experienced international pairs – we hadn’t raced internationally at all – and we weren’t really quite up to it,’ he recalled. ‘As with everybody else, we came fourth. But it was a great achievement to get to the Olympics.’ ” One of the two oarsmen in the U.S. gold medal crew had been rowing for less than a year. Davidge had been rowing for many years. So much for that excuse. And how did everybody else come fourth? Is that how they teach math at Eton and Oxford?

    • Tom,

      When Davidge said “As with everybody else, we came fourth …” he was referring to the results achieved by the Great Britain rowing team in Helsinki where they finished in that position in the single, the pair, both coxed and coxless fours and the eight.

      As for ‘math’, you can rest assured that no such subject is taught at Eton, Oxford or anywhere on this side of the pond. Was it was Oscar Wilde or George Bernard Shaw who observed that America and Britain were two countries separated by the same language? Whichever, in this case they are entirely accurate but it took an Irishman to point it out.

      • Greg – Thanks for that clarification re the fourths (which I expect were soon followed by several fifths!). And should I have said “maths”, as I was taught by my New Zealand mother? Happy New Year!

  2. Racing in Denmark in the 1970s and 1980s, the Danes did have a ‘symbolic’ medal for fourth place, ‘Kartoffel Medalje’ – the Potato Medal, though, I am not sure if that really was a comfort for those crews placing fourth, as a fourth place is a fourth place. I do believe, however, it is an honour to compete in a final at the Olympics. Well, a Swede would think that, wouldn’t he…..? (So far, Sweden has only taken two Olympic medals in rowing: coxed inrigger four in 1912 and coxed four in 1956; they also took a ‘Kartoffel Medalje’ in the eights in 1956, being the only European eight making the final.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.