Sound and vision blog

9 posts categorized "Sports"

17 December 2021

BL Sports Word of theYear 2021

Jonnie Robinson, Lead Curator of Spoken English, writes:

It’s perhaps not surprising that vax and its more conventional older sibling, vaccine, were designated 2021 Word Of The Year by dictionaries in the UK and USA respectively. This weekend also sees the annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) awards ceremony, which leads rather neatly to my annual review of linguistic highlights I’ve collected from mainstream media over the last twelve months in search of the 8th unofficial British Library Sports Word of The Year (SWOTY 2021). Inevitably, pandemic-related vocabulary once again featured prominently in sports coverage throughout 2021. In The Guardian alone, last year’s ubiquitous biosecure bubble subtly morphed into bio-bubble or simply bubble, while pingdemic began to appear in the sports pages from July as numerous sportsmen and -women withdrew from teams or events to self-isolate following notification of a close contact to Covid-19. Despite this, the terms selected here focus exclusively on the more enduring aspects of sporting discourse. Here, then are the ten nominees for SWOTY 2021:

February (Sir Alastair Cook responding to praise at his prediction that England would win the men’s Test at Chennai, Channel 4): even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while

February (Ebony Rainford-Brent reflecting on England’s victory in the men’s Test in Chennai): the batters set things up in the first innings

March (Pamela Cookey’s half time analysis of Severn Stars tactics in the Vitality Super League fixture against Leeds Rhinos, Sky Sports Mix): [they] had time to work that to circle edge you can see the desperation

April (Nick Dougherty responding to Butch Harmon’s comment about Cameron Smith’s haircut at The Masters, Sky Sports Golf): I think they call it a Tennessee waterfall over there

TENNESSEEE WATERFALL

July (Mel Jones describing Imran Tahir’s extravagant dive after taking a catch for Birmingham Phoenix against Southern Brave, Sky Sports Main Event): I thought he put a bit of mayo on that

July (Liam Gallagher tweet following Emma Raducanu’s success at Wimbledon, Guardian Sport): get on the Les Dennis tday [sic] and get behind Emma Raducanu celestial talent

August (Charlotte Worthington explains her first ever in-competition 360 back flip in Olympic BMX Freestyle, BBC 5 Live): I managed to pull off the 360 back flip aka the Ferrari which we kept under tight wraps in the lead up to the games

August (Deep Dasgupta discussing the batting approach of Indian cricketers, KS Rahul & Rohit Sharma) both of them have played what we call khadoos cricket

September (Ewen Murray quoting Lexi Thompson’s opinion on the absence of European supporters at the Solheim Cup, Guardian Sport): Thompson insisted the scale of backing for the US will not apply the P-word

November (Vicky Sparks quoting Beth Mead’s own explanation of an intentional shot-cum-cross at a free kick, BBC 5 Live): she calls it a crots

December (Chloe Merrell summarising England’s victory in the second Test v Jamaica, Guardian Sport): Sophie Drakeford-Lewis was tried at wing attack

This year’s list embraces six sports – cricket, netball, golf, tennis, BMX, and football. As in previous years, cricket features prominently, undoubtedly a reflection of the sport’s notoriously arcane vocabulary, but also perhaps because the stop-start nature of the game offers greater opportunity for spontaneous chat during a typical live commentary. In contrast to previous years, seven of the ten entries are attributed to women and six relate to female sport – a result, perhaps, of the gradual, but long overdue, increase in coverage of female sport and of greater female representation in the sporting media.

The entries reveal the usual linguistic suspects, including examples of jargon (i.e. specialised vocabulary, e.g. batter, circle edge and wing attack) and slang (i.e. informal forms, e.g. put a bit of mayo on, Les Dennis and Ferrari), while the phrase even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while looks like an idiom or even a proverb. The increasing influence of the Indian subcontinent on cricketing vocabulary is evident in the loan word khadoos. P-word is a code word formed by the well-established morphological process of taking the initial letter of the intended word and adding the suffix <-word>. I suspect P-word , like the blend crots, is a neologism (i.e. an idiosyncratic expression coined by the user for a one-off occasion). All ten demonstrate how press and media sports coverage is an excellent resource for discovering vernacular English.

The term batter [= ‘player who bats in cricket’] is recorded in the OED from 1773, but the most recent citation is 1854, while the hitherto more established form, batsman, has entries that run from 1744 to 1927. Until recently, for most (male?) British cricketers, batter was generally associated with Australian usage – i.e. a rare example of sporting dialect – but in September this year the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) officially adopted the form, batter, in its Laws of the Game. Promoting a gender-neutral term over a previously more widespread form is an unusual example of a governing body changing its terminology to reflect (and endorse) social change. Inevitably, the term divides opinion in cricketing circles, although the citation here pre-dates the ECB resolution. As a female ex-England cricketer, I imagine Ebony Rainford-Brent has always viewed this form as perfectly natural and uncontentious, and it’s reassuring to note that The Guardian has consistently used batter in its cricket coverage all year.

The two other items of jargon here come from netball. Watching Vitality Super League matches this season I’ve been struck by the number of commentators and players who refer to a specific area of the court as circle edge, rather than the (to me) more grammatically instinctive construction, the edge of the circle. By way of contrast, hockey players refer to the equivalent part of a hockey pitch as the edge of the circle (or, even more commonly the edge of the D). This preference for a compound noun and zero definite article in netball is confirmed by numerous netball coaching manuals, while the FIH rulebook confirms the preference for possessive ‘of’ in hockey.

CIRCLE EDGE

While every football position I can think of and indeed every fielding position in cricket, many of which are delightfully obscure, merits an entry in either the OED or its open access counterpart, Lexico, I was surprised to discover that the netball position, wing attack, does not warrant an entry in either. Interestingly, Lexico has entries for centre, goal attack and goal defence, but not for wing attack nor for wing defence. Yet anyone who has ever played netball – presumably at least half the UK population – will be familiar with the term and has worn a WA bib to prove it. In fact, the names for netball positions – and their corresponding abbreviations – were clearly considered sufficiently mainstream to appear as clues in March this year on BBC2’s Only Connect Series 16 Final; so come on, OED: let’s have wing attack and wing defence in the dictionary.

WA


Returning to cricket, Test Match Special commentator, Deep Dasgupta, described India’s openers, KS Rahul and Rohit Sharma, as typical khadoos cricketers [= ‘unspectacular but gritty and determined’]. ESPN Cricinfo website describes khadoos as a common label in Indian cricketing circles, especially in Mumbai, for a type of unglamorous, uncompromising cricketer with a never-say die attitude.

KHADOOS
A 2017 article in the Hindu Sportstar uses the veiled form, K-word, to refer to the same phenomenon – mirroring analogous disguised forms, which serve as euphemisms (e.g. F-word) or as a means of avoiding offensive terms (e.g. N-word). The implication is that khadoos has negative connotations for some, which is presumably the implication here with P-word [= ‘pressure’]. Sports stars understandably go to considerable lengths to disguise any outward display of nerves, so the use of P-word here suggests that the word pressure is not even in Lexi Thompson’s vocabulary. The OED lists several ‘X-word’ forms, but I haven’t found any supporting evidence for widespread use of P-word in this sense. The construction itself is clearly highly productive as in October, B-word [= ‘banter’] appeared in The Guardian as shorthand used by some (unsuccessfully, thankfully) to try and justify the unacceptable dressing room culture experienced by Azeem Rafiq and others at Yorkshire County Cricket Club and elsewhere.

As in previous years, several entries illustrate how the spontaneous nature of live commentary, punditry and post-match interviews promotes light-hearted exchanges and playful language. Our enduring fascination with, and enthusiasm for, rhyming slang, is demonstrated by Les Dennis [= ‘tennis’], which features in the wonderful Cockney Rhyming Slang website, while Urban Dictionary records Tennessee Waterfall [= ‘mullet-style haircut’] and adding mayo [= ‘to exaggerate a story that is not that exciting in order to get a reaction from listeners’], i.e. expressing a similar notion to Mel Jones’s use here of put a bit of mayo on. Similarly typical of our individual and shared pleasure in wordplay is the form crots [= ‘cross-cum-shot’ i.e. a ball played towards goal in the hope that it will either result in a goal or a goalscoring opportunity for a teammate]. As a blend of the words cross and shot, it’s interesting to note that Beth Mead favours crots over its potential rival shoss – presumably because crots adheres more instinctively to English phonotactic rules.

I haven’t found any other reference to crots nor to Ferrari [= ‘something especially outstanding/impressive/desirable of its kind’], used here to describe the spectacular trick performed by Charlotte Worthington in winning the Olympic BMX Freestyle gold medal. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to note that an equally exclusive Italian sports car – Maserati – conveys an identical notion in the 1972 Monty Python bus conductor sketch, in which Graham Chapman delivers the punchline to a joke followed by ‘Boom! Boom! Every one a Maserati!’. Finally, even a blind squirrel finds a nut [= ‘even if people are ineffective/misguided, they’re still sometimes correct by sheer luck’] is recorded in the Cambridge International Dictionary, although several online forums suggest acorn for nut.

Most of this year’s entries are captured in the British Library’s Newspaper collections, National Radio Archive and UK Web Archive, proving the Library is an invaluable resource for monitoring vernacular language. And so, after much deliberation, I’m delighted to announce this year’s winner is batter - in recognition of what it represents in terms of a more inclusive future and in the hope that England might find one or two in time for the second Ashes Test!

BATTER

Follow Spoken English collections at @VoicesofEnglish.

28 October 2021

The Pinnacle Club: 100 years of women climbing and mountaineering

A 1921 photo of 8 women standing on a mountainThe first Pinnacle Club meet, Idwal Slabs, 1921. L-R: Emily (Pat) Kelly, Dorothy Evans, Mrs O Johnson, Harriet Turner, B Lella Michaelson, Cicely Rathbone, Constance Stanley, Blanche Eden-Smith. Credit: GS Bower

The Pinnacle Club is a national women’s climbing club founded 100 years ago, the inspiration of Emily (Pat) Kelly. Forty-three women supported its initiation, many of whom came together on 26 March 1921 at the Pen y Gwryd Hotel in North Wales to establish the Club ethos as follows: ‘The objectives of the Club are to foster the independent development of rock climbing amongst women, and to bring together those who are interested in these pursuits by organising Meets [sic] and other such means of communications as may from time to time be deemed advisable.’ (PC Handbook 1921 p2.) In 1989 the objectives were extended to include mountaineering.

Soon after its formation, and in keeping with its Welsh origins, the Club acquired Cwm Dyli, an old cottage in the heart of Snowdonia. Usually referred to as ‘the Hut', this was rapidly converted to accommodate groups and became the ‘home’ of the Club. In the 1980s the Club was able to buy the hut and then invested in modernising it.

A black and white photo of six women standing outside a Welsh cottageThe opening of the hut, including Evelyn Lowe, Mary Lear, Daloni Seth-Hughes, Jennet Seth-Hughes, Marjorie Wood, Penelope Seth-Hughes. Courtesy: Pinnacle Club.

Jean Drummond on finding the hut (C1876/24)

Download Jean Drummond on finding the hut (C1876-24) Transcript

To commemorate its centenary year, and with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Pinnacle Club has recorded oral history interviews with 24 past and present members. These have all now been archived at the British Library and can be found by searching C1876 at the Sound and Moving Image Catalogue. The club has also digitised over 1500 images and several films related to its history, and extracts from these can be seen on the Pinnacle Club Centenary Website.

The oral histories were recorded over a period of eight months in 2020 between Covid-19 lockdowns. The recordings were conducted by seven members of the Pinnacle Club; in gardens, in well-ventilated rooms and, when face-to-face was not possible, remotely using Squadcast.

Participants include women who were among the climbing pioneers of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, as well as younger women who are active today. Their ages range from 96 (Gwen Moffat, C1876/23) to 26 (Milena von und zur Muhlen, C1876/04). The wider membership of the club was asked to suggest suitable women for inclusion in the project. As a result, the participants came from England, Scotland, Wales and Europe, from a variety of social backgrounds and with a wide range of experiences and mountaineering achievements. Together their stories illustrate the place of women in the outdoors and in so doing help redress the balance of a male narrative in the history of climbing.

The interviewers themselves, some of whom were also interviewees, although inexperienced in the processes of recording oral histories, were quickly committed to the task and felt privileged and honoured to be witness to the extraordinary stories they heard. Despite the challenges of the technical demands of equipment and technique, they were left with a real admiration for the women they interviewed and a strong belief that these stories deserve to be shared with a much wider audience.

When the Pinnacle Club was founded, climbing clubs of the day were mainly single sex. The first mountaineering club for women, The Ladies' Alpine Club was founded in London in 1907 and it merged with the Alpine Club in 1975. Only the Pinnacle Club and the Ladies Scottish Climbing Club, founded in 1908, remain women only clubs in the UK. In the early 1900s joining one of these clubs was the only way in which women could find like-minded female climbing partners and climb unhindered by the stereotypes of the day. Even in the 1940s and 50s, when the oldest of our interviewees started their climbing career, opportunities for, and expectations of, women were restricted. Many spoke in their oral histories of being frustrated by the limitations of girls’ education at the time, and low expectations of women’s athletic performance. Alongside higher education, travel and outdoor activity were seen to offer greater independence. Climbing was a very male dominated activity, but clubs like the Pinnacle Club allowed women to take on leadership roles.

A recurring theme throughout the oral history interviews is this experience of climbing with other women. Many members found this to be empowering and confidence building, and spoke about being encouraged and supported to climb at standards above and beyond their expectations. This seems particularly evident on international meets. It is no surprise that this led to the development of close bonds through shared, often life risking, experiences. The commitment, tolerance and trust required to be part of an effective climbing partnership can be a solid basis for friendship.

Stella Adams on joining the Pinnacle Club (C1876/21)

Download Stella Adams on joining the Pinnacle Club (C1876-21) Transcript

Although in the minority among the climbing community and in many cases their presence overlooked, women have contributed significant achievements in mountaineering and rock climbing around the world. A number of these achievements are recorded in the Pinnacle Club Journals (1924 – present), and they are now further documented in the oral history recordings.

Rhona Lampard on climbing Gasherbrum II (C1876/05)

Download Rhona Lampard on climbing Gasherbrum II (C1876-05) Transcript

Dorothy Pilley, a founding member of the Pinnacle Club and an outstanding climber of her time, said in her book Climbing Days that the formation of the club was 'a long conspiracy prompted by the feeling many of us shared, that a rock climbing club for women by women would give us a better chance of climbing independently of men, both as to leadership and general mountaineering.' For 100 years the Pinnacle Club has continued to thrive with these same objectives and now this history is preserved at the British Library. The oral histories provide an insight into the history of the Pinnacle Club, into the role of women in the development of climbing and mountaineering and into the ongoing need for a women-only space where climbers can gain the confidence and independence to continue the Club’s proud traditions.

Blog by Pinnacle Club Oral History Team

The oral history collection 'The Pinnacle Club: 100 years of women climbing and mountaineering' can be found by searching C1876 at the Sound and Moving Image Catalogue

22 February 2021

Recording of the week: Breathe in

This week's selection comes from Giulia Baldorilli, Reference Specialist.

Born in 1885 in a small town in the Free State province of South Africa, Tromp Van Diggelen had an unfortunate childhood. He suffered from various respiratory-related illnesses, such as pneumonia.

Supported by his teacher at school, Tromp started studying the functionality of human body which eventually led him to discover that simple circular breathing exercises would improve physical strength and build up body resistance.

Instead of investing in long days of training at the gym, he realised good breathing techniques could in fact help him add a few inches to his chest, thus building up physical endurance. He would later become known as 'The Man with the Perfect Chest'.

This focus on functional strength allowed him much more freedom to finally participate alongside other children in sport competitions.

He understood that muscle flexibility was improved by blood flow, and simple breathing exercises might improve the muscular tone, leaving us with a healthier and stronger appearance. This knowledge is at the core of 'A Lesson in Correct Breathing', released by Columbia.

Colombia disc label

Breathing Made Easy

Download Transcript for Breathing Made Easy

In the recording you hear real intakes, while following Tromp’s clear instructions on how to expand the chest and then release the breath.

These talking demonstrations based on practical and simple advice are sequences that are easy to follow and repeat, accessible to anyone. Ultimately, they show us how much a correct breathing technique can improve the quality of our life as a whole.

Follow @BLSoundHeritage and @soundarchive for all the latest news.

30 September 2016

Albert Spalding - American violinist

In a recent blog about swans, my colleague Cheryl Tipp used a recording of the famous work by Saint-Saëns, Le Cygne.  The work is normally played on the cello, but Cheryl found an arrangement for violin played by the American violinist Albert Spalding.  Along with Maud Powell (1867-1920), Spalding was one of the first American violinists to make recordings.  Powell made her first discs for Victor in 1904 while Spalding began to make his recordings a few years later for Edison.

Albert_Spalding_1911

Albert Spalding in 1911

Spalding was the son of James Walter Spalding who founded the famous sports goods company in the United States with his brother the baseball pitcher Albert Spalding.  The violinist, apparently named after his uncle, was born in Chicago in 1888.  He studied in Europe and made his Paris debut at the age of eighteen.  After serving in the First World War, Spalding had a career in the States, notably giving the premiere of Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto in 1941 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Charles Munch.  During the Second World War he served in London, North Africa and Naples where he gave a concert to stranded refugees.  Spalding retired in 1950 and died at the age of 64 in 1953.

Spalding recorded for Edison in the early years of the twentieth century on both cylinder and disc.  Many of the cylinder recordings (some of these are dubbings of diamond disc recordings) have been made available on line by the University of California Santa Barbara.  Below you can hear one of the recordings not featured in the Santa Barbara collection, a popular encore by Henri Wieniawski of the Scherzo-Tarantelle Op. 16 which was recorded in 1920 and dubbed from an Edison diamond disc. 

Spalding Scherzo Tarantelle

14 September 2016

Paralympics Memories

800px-Tanni_Grey-Thompson

As the focus in Rio shifts from the Olympics to the Paralympics this blog reflects on what we can learn from the British Library oral history collections about the history of the Paralympics, changing opportunities for participation in disability sport and shifting attitudes to them.  These collections provide perspectives from within the disabled community as well as from those outside it.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Retirement Association Oral History Project is an extensive collection that includes recollections of the Stoke Mandeville Games, the predecessors of the Paralympics. Gill McCay recalls watching the games, which were for athletes with spinal injuries, while Ida Bromley remembers the involvement of physiotherapists in the early years and their need to engage specialist help as the range of sports expanded.

Ida Bromley on the early days of physiotherapist's involvement

By the time Tanni Grey-Thompson and Danny Crates were competing and winning gold medals in the Paralympics in the late 20th and early 21st century the scale and scope of the event had expanded significantly to include many thousands of athletes from around the globe.  For them competition was intense and success required many hours of training, foregoing the company of family and friends to focus on their athletic ambitions.

Training on Christmas day

Learning to think like an athlete

Listening Project interviews with teenage amputees Kieran Maxwell and Ryan Cinnamond reveal how the achievements of Paralympic athletes fuelled their sporting ambitions and raised their own expectations as they learned to walk again with prosthetic legs after life-threatening illnesses.

Kieran Maxwell:  ‘Doing cartwheels with a prosthetic leg’

Ryan Cinnamond: ‘On learning to run again’ (29:53 to 32.20)

These hopes and expectations seem a long way from many of the experiences recounted by older interviewees in the collection’ “How Was School?” Interviews with Disabled People about their experience of Education over the last 100 years. Here interviewees such as Joanne Akallo Wacha recall the difficulties they experienced in getting involved in sport, usually the result of the lack of facilities or relevant expertise and absence of any encouragement.

Disappointing PE lessons

This collection also reveals a range of views on the Paralympics themselves, with some contributors expressing the view that the event does a good job or raising awareness and promoting inclusion, while others remained sceptical about its positive outcomes. 

Spectators are also represented in the collection, including William Burn, charity administrator, who attended the Stoke Mandeville Games in the 1950s (C984/14/01). As the collections continue to grow it is likely that they will also include more recollections on the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics such as those of architect Rab Bennetts (C467/103) who reflects on changing attitudes towards disability as well as the architectural legacy of the events.

By Dr Sally Horrocks

07 September 2016

Olympic memories

Are you missing the Olympic Games? At the British Library, as part of our Broadcast News service of current television and radio recordings, we recorded the Rio Games every day. We didn't have the capacity to record all of the estimated 3,000 hours or more that the BBC broadcast, but we did record the main summary programmes, including each day's Olympic Breakfast (BBC One), Olympic Sportsday (BBC News), 5 live Olympic Breakfast and 5 live Olympic Download (BBC 5 live), plus round-up coverage from the main broadcast across the three channels employed by the BBC. We also recorded the entirety of one day's coverage (Day 11, 16 August 2016) across BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four and 5 live, to illustrate how the full broadcast operation worked. And of course we recorded the opening and closing ceremonies.

Usain

Usain Bolt winning the Men's 100m

All of these programmes are now available view at our London and Boston Spa sites, and can be found on the Explore catalogue. Simply type in the title of the programme from the list below, select Moving Images or Audio under Material Type if necessary, then click on the Details tab to find the link to the playable programme. Or if you are onsite you can go to a terminal in any Reading Room and find them through the Broadcast News service itself (choose Sound and Moving Image services from the welcome page and then follow the links). For copyright reasons we are unable to make the programmes available outside our reading rooms.

Programmes recorded:

  • 5 live Olympic Breakfast [series] (BBC Radio 5 live)
  • 5 live Olympic Download [series] (BBC Radio 5 live)
  • Mo Farah: Race of His Life (BBC One)
  • Olympic Breakfast [series] (BBC One)
  • Olympic Sportsday [series] (BBC News]
  • Olympics 2016 [series] (BBC One, Two or Four)
  • Olympics 2016: Countdown to Rio (BBC One)
  • Olympics 2016: Opening Ceremony (BBC One)
  • Olympics 2016: Closing Ceremony (BBC One)
  • Tom Daley: Diving for Gold (BBC One)

Cauldron

The cauldron from the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony

Broadcast News started record back in 2010, so we were there for London 2012. Again, we weren't able to record everything of the huge amount of video broadcast by the BBC, but we recorded the round-up programmes and the opening and closing ceremonies. All of these are also available on Broadcast news and are discoverable via Explore.

Programmes recorded:

  • Olympics Countdown (BBC One)
  • Olympics Opening Ceremony (BBC One)
  • Olympics 2012 [series] (BBC One)
  • Olympics Tonight [series] (BBC One)
  • Olympic Sportsday [series] (BBC News)
  • Olympics 2012 Closing Ceremony (BBC One)

Of course, we recorded the Paralympic Games in 2012 and are geared up to document the Paralympics in Rio from today. Once that archive has been amassed, another blog post will follow.

21 August 2015

World Athletics Championships

The 15th  World Athletics Championships are being held in Beijing’s iconic ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic stadium from 22-30th August.  Britain currently lies in eight place on the overall medal table from the 14 previous events, and interviews with some of the athletes who won these medals and competed at in earlier editions feature in the British Library’s oral history collections recounting their life stories and reflecting on their time in athletics.

Silver medalist of the 1980 Olympics in 800m running Sebastian Coe

Sebastian Coe (second from left), silver medalist of the 1980 Olympics in 800m running.  © RIA Novosti archive, image #556242 / Yuriy Somov / CC-BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

400m runner Roger Black, winner of an individual silver medal (1991) and three 4x400m relay medals two gold (1991 and 1997)  and a silver (1987) reflects on how athletes view success in the World Championships compared to other major events, particularly the Olympics

Roger Black reflects on how athletes view success

Liz McColgan was another gold medal winner in Tokyo in 1991, just nine months after giving birth to her daughter, Eilish.  In her interview she discussed her return to competition after pregnancy, her memories of the World Championship win and the struggle she had to produce a urine sample after the race.

Liz McColgan discusses her return to competition after pregnancy

For McColgan, however, it was not this gold medal that gave her the most satisfaction during this period of her career.  Instead it was running a world best time for the half-marathon the following year, in the face of adversity including several sleepless nights with a sick child

Liz McColgan describes the best moment of her career

Both Black and McColgan were fortunate to be injury-free and in peak form in a World Championship year. Others such as Lord Coe, now president of the IAAF, were less fortunate.  Coe missed the inaugural World Championships in 1983 with toxoplasmosis, was injured for the second in 1987 and had retired by the time of the third in 1991.  Interviewed in 1999 he remembered missing the 1983 event and the press speculation that surrounded his absence from the track.

Lord Coe remembers missing the 1983 World Championships

All these performances were based on many thousands of hours of training and failure as well as success.  Daley Thompson, winner of the decathlon gold medal in the first World Championships in 1983 and a double Olympic gold medallist, reflected on how he learned from his failures and always sought improvements in training. 

Daley Thompson reflects on how he learnt from his failures

For Thompson the track was where he felt at home, and like many other athletes he found dealing with the media and the public away from it could be challenging.  High jump bronze medallist in Toronto in 1993, Steve Smith, reflects on the positive and negative consequences of being in the public eye.

Steve Smith reflects on the positive and negative consequences of being in the public eye

This level of scrutiny and the life of a professional athlete described by Smith seem a long way from the experiences recounted by many of the older interviewees in this collection such as John Disley, Ann Brightwell (Packer) and Dorothy Hyman whose Olympic medals were won in the 1950s and 1960s before British athletes who competed on the international stage could make a living from their sport.

To hear more visit the Sport collection on British Library Sounds.

By Sally Horrocks

15 January 2015

Help Us Create a Directory of UK Sound Collections

Amongst the literary treasures held in the basements of the British Library sits an extraordinary collection of sounds.  From recordings of extinct species, voices from the past, to music across all genres, the British Library’s sound archive is held on more than 1.5 million physical items, just waiting to be heard.

But all of these recordings, from those made on the earliest wax cylinders to contemporary CD-Rs, face a real and immediate threat.

BLCK-SOUND2_RT2

Edison 'Concert' wax cylinders in the collections of the British Library

Within 15 years, the combination of physical degradation and the disappearance of the technologies that support physical media will make accessing the nation’s sound archive difficult, and in many cases impossible.  Without taking steps to preserve these recordings now, they will be lost.

These risks face all recorded sound collections, across the country; from boxes of forgotten cassette recordings to professional archives.

To understand the risks facing the UK’s sound collections, the British Library has initiated a project to collect information about our recorded heritage, to create a Directory of UK Sound Collections.

By telling us what you have, we can understand more about the breadth of the nation’s collections and the risks that they face, and this will help us plan for their preservation, for future generations.

Our aim is to be comprehensive; to search out sounds that exist in libraries, archives, museums, galleries, schools and colleges, charities, societies, businesses and in your homes.  And we’re not just interested in large collections: a single item might be just as important as a whole archive.   

So if you think you might have a rare or unique collection of sounds, or just a recording that should be preserved, let us know!

The census is live now and will run until the end of March 2015.  You can read more about the project, and send us information about your collections here: www.bl.uk/projects/uk-sound-directory

Responses have already started to come in, and we’ll be publishing updates on the project, and some of the things we’ve found on this blog, so enter your email address and click the Subscribe button at the top of this page to receive notifications by email.

The British Library’s Directory of UK Sound Collections is one of the first steps in our Save our Sounds programme; one of the key strands of Living Knowledge, the British Library’s new vision and purpose for its future.

You can follow the British Library Sound Archive on Twitter via @soundarchive and tag with #SaveOurSounds

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