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South Georgia: Sports

The Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands is issuing
a set of stamps that commemorate sports on South Georgia.

When Sir Arnold Hodson, Governor of the then Falkland Islands
Dependencies, visited South Georgia in February1928 he opened what was
acclaimed as 'The First Olympiad in the Antarctic'. This was the sports
meeting that was held on the football pitch at Grytviken between the
five whaling stations (Grytviken, Leith Harbour, Stromness, Husvik and
Prince Olaf Harbour).

The sports started with a parade of the competitors marching behind
their station flags and saluting the Governor as they passed. Field
sports included shot put, throwing the javelin and running races, but
the highlight was four football matches. At the close of the day Sir
Arnold presented two silver cups.

The games proved so popular that they were repeated annually. A Sports
Committee was set up to make the arrangements which included social as
well as sporting activities. Each station also had its own committee for
local events. By 1930, the sports had been extended to two days. In that
year the enthusiasm of competitors and spectators was not dampened by
weather that was described as 'almost as bad as it could be even for
South Georgia'. Long jump, high jump and hop, step and jump had been
added to the events. Despite the ground becoming a quagmire, the 100
metre sprint was won in 12.2 seconds – an amazing time when the Olympic
record stood at 10.6 seconds. In the football final Leith Harbour
trounced Grytviken 4 – 1.

Winter sports, at which the Norwegians excelled, started in 1913 with
cross-country skiing and ski-jumping. There were ski-jumps at Grytviken
and Leith Harbour. Rifle-shooting was added to the programme during
World War II. There were also sports outside the inter-station sports
meetings and the British administrative centre at King Edward Point
boasted a hard tennis court.

As whaling stations closed, the sports meetings were reduced but the
inter-station competitions continued until the 1961-62 season and
football matches were arranged with visiting ships. Grytviken and Leith
Harbour re-opened from 1963/64 to 1965/66 under Japanese management and
each held its own sports day.

In 1970 the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) took over from the civil
administration at King Edward Point and, in the succeeding years, the
men established a number of sports. Badminton and 5-a-side football were
played in the Kino (the whalers' cinema) in the Grytviken whaling
station. Football and, occasionally, cricket were played on the old
football pitch behind the whaling station. The combination of shingle
and coarse vegetation on the pitch made a poor playing surface for
football. For cricket it made a wicked surface for bowling. The most
recent cricket match involved teams of 10 made up by recruiting two
Americans from a visiting yacht who had never seen cricket let alone
played it.

BAS personnel regularly challenged the crews of visiting naval and
research vessels to football. Black-and white shirts in Newcastle United
colours had been acquired from the manufacturers to give the team a
professional appearance and they were regular winners.

After 1983, the military garrison at KEP added volleyball to the list of
sports and continued the football tradition as South Georgia’s civil
administration and scientific presence does to this day.

The stamps show long jump (55p), high jump (70p) and shot put (80p) at
the summer sports and ski-jump (£1.00) in the winter sports whilst the
FDC shows Football.

Text by Robert Burton.

Technical details:

Stamp Photographs John Alexander

FDC Photograph Walter Nurse

Printer Cartor Security Printing

Process Stochastic Lithography

Perforation 13 ¼ per 2cms

Stamp size 36 x 36mm

Sheet Layout 10

Release date 1 August, 2016

Production Co-ordination Creative Direction (Worldwide) Ltd

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