6 July 2020
By Göran R Buckhorn
Göran R Buckhorn points you in another direction.
While you will find some of the leading rowing historians and writers pen articles for HTBS – either as regular or irregular contributors – other digital newspapers, magazines and websites do have great journalists and writers publishing pieces on rowing and rowers. Just take a look at the list ‘Good Rowing Links’ on the right.
As we know that you readers enjoy rowing as much as we do, we now and then point you to articles on other websites. On 1 July, the Inside The Games magazine/website published a not-to-be-missed interview with American Olympian oarsman Duvall Hecht. The article was written by David Owen, who has worked for the Financial Times, including being the newspaper’s sports editor. HTBS readers should remember Owen for his eminent biography of FISA President Thomi Keller, Thomi Keller: A Life in Sport (2018), which was reviewed by HTBS’s Chris Dodd.
In Owen’s article, 90-year-old Duvall Hecht talks about the Olympic rowing at the 1952 games in Helsinki where he rowed in the coxed pair with coxswain James Beggs and oarsman Jimmy Fifer. They ended up dead last in the semi-final and then lost the repechage – ‘a great relief’, Hecht says in the article. For the next Olympic Games in Melbourne, with rowing on Lake Wendouree at Ballarat, Hecht and Fifer won an Olympic gold medal in the coxless pairs.
A film showing the U.S. pair rowing at the 1956 Olympics is here.
I hope HTBS readers forgive me for adding a story about Hecht that has been told previously on this website. After Hecht had become Olympic champion, he retired from the sport, though he continued to row. In the mid-1960s, he asked boat builder George Pocock to build him a single scull. In 1966, Pocock delivered a beautiful wooden boat to Hecht, which the Olympian named By George. Hecht rowed it a couple of times, but he was so impressed by the beauty of the boat that he decided not to use it. Instead, he hung it up in the ceiling of his house and bought a second-hand boat to scull in.
Hecht later donated By George to the National Rowing Foundation, NRF. From March 2008 to September 2014, By George hung from the ceiling in the lobby of Mystic Seaport Museum’s G. W. Blunt White Building, which acted as the NRF National Rowing Hall of Fame during that time.