Harold Maurice Abrahams was born in Bedford in 1899. His father, Isaac, had emigrated to England from Russian Poland before settling in Bedford with his Welsh wife Ester.

Abrahams was educated at Bedford School, Repton School and then at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, before training as a lawyer.

In the run up to the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, Abrahams was introduced to professional coach, Sam Mussabini, by fellow athlete, Eric Liddell. With the encouragement of his brother, Sidney, Harold Abrahams employed Mussabini as his coach – a move which raised eyebrows amongst the establishment’s blue blazer brigade of the time. However, his dedication and professionalism paid dividends. At the 1924 Summer Games, Abrahams won the 100 metres in a time of 10.6 seconds, a feat depicted in the 1981 movie ‘Chariots of Fire’. Abrahams also won a second Olympic medal – a silver – as the opening runner for the 4 x 100m team.

Bronze medallist that day in the 100 metres was Arthur Porritt, later Governor-General of New Zealand and Queen’s Surgeon. Abrahams and Porritt dined together at 7pm on the 7th of July, the time of the final, every year thereafter until Abrahams’ death in 1978.

Abrahams, who in later life became president of the Amateur Athletic Association as well as a respected writer and broadcaster, attributed his success to hard and conscientious training under Mussabini’s expert eye.

Harold’s older brother, Sir Sidney Abrahams, was also a British athlete and Olympic long jumper.

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