Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford, CBE, (January 1, 1899 – December 3, 1977) was one of the most accomplished rowers of his generation. He won medals at five straight Olympics, which was an Olympic record in rowing (since tied by Steven Redgrave, although Redgrave won gold at five consecutive Games). Beresford would have been a favourite for a medal in the 1940 Olympics in the Double Scull event, but those games were cancelled because of World War II.

Beresford's race against John B. Kelly, Sr. in the single scull event at the 1920 Summer Olympics, given the closeness of the battle between two of the most accomplished oarsmen of all time, both of whom ended their careers as triple gold medalists, is legendary. It featured a dramatic stretch run with Kelly eventually prevailing in one of the closest single scull races in Olympic history. Kelly and Beresford would later become good friends.

In the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Beresford was the flag bearer for the British delegation in the Opening Ceremonies, which were filmed by Leni Riefenstahl. The scene was included in her documentary "Olympia", which is sometimes described as a Nazi propaganda film. At the 1936 Games, Beresford and his partner in the Double, L.F. (Dick) Southwood - with Adolf Hitler watching - came from a length down to pass the favoured Germans with just 200 metres to go, thus giving Beresford his fifth Olympic medal and third gold. Beresford would later write it was "the sweetest race I ever rowed."

Beresford won the Diamond Challenge Sculls at the Henley Royal Regatta in 1920, 1924, 1925 and 1926, the Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup (pair) with Gordon "Bill" Killick in 1928 and 1929, the Stewards Challenge Cup (coxless four) in 1932 and the Grand Challenge Cup (eight) in 1923 and 1928. In addition, he was losing finalist in the Diamond Sculls in 1921 and 1922. In the inaugural Centenary Double Sculls event (now the Double Sculls Challenge Cup) in 1939, Beresford, together with Dick Southwood, raced a memorable final against the European Champions, Scherli and Broschi of Trieste which resulted in a dead-heat.

Between 1920 and 1927, Beresford was winner of the Wingfield Sculls, for the Amateur Sculling Championship of the Thames and Great Britain for eight consecutive years, a streak unmatched in history.

With his win in the single scull at the 1924 Olympic Games came the Philadelphia Gold Cup, awarded by the Schuylkill Navy for the amateur sculling championship of the world. He successfully defended the Cup against Walter Hoover in 1925 before indicating to its stewards that he no longer wished to contest it.

In 1930, Beresford finished second to reigning Olympic champion Henry "Bobby" Pearce in the Single Scull at the inaugural Empire/Commonwealth Games.

During the first World War, Beresford was wounded in France. He returned to London and learned the craft of making furniture in his father's factory.

Beresford's father, Julius Beresford, won an Olympic silver medal for Great Britain in the eights in 1912 and he rowed at Henley many times, winning the Silver Goblets & Nickalls Cup in 1911, and the Stewards Challenge Cup in 1909 and 1911. He was also a successful coach. He was a partner in the furniture company Beresford & Hicks.His father Julius Bernard Wisniewski was originally from Danzig.

Throughout his competitive career, Beresford (like his father and his brother, Eric Beresford) represented Thames Rowing Club. He served as Captain of Thames in 1928-9 and was President of the Club from 1970 until his death in 1977.

Beresford was elected a Steward of Henley Royal Regatta in 1946. He was a member of the organising committee of the 1948 London Olympic Games.

His contribution to rowing was recognised with two honours in the 1940s: the gold medal of the international rowing federation (1947), and the Olympic diploma of merit (1949). In 1960, Beresford was appointed a Commander of the British Empire. In 2005, a Blue Plaque was erected by English Heritage at Beresford's home from 1903-1940, 19 Grove Park Gardens in Chiswick, West London. Beresford is one of the first sportsmen to receive this honour.


*Olympic Medals: 3 Gold, 2 Silver

Olympic Games

*1936 - Gold, Double Scull (with Dick Southwood)
*1932 - Gold, Coxless Four (with a crew from Thames Rowing Club and Oxford University Boat Club)
*1928 - Silver, Eight (with a crew from Thames Rowing Club, second to USA, represented by Cal-Berkeley)
*1924 - Gold, Single Scull
*1920 - Silver, Single Scull (second to John B. Kelly, Sr.)

Commonwealth Games

*1930 - Silver, Single Scull (second to Henry "Bobby" Pearce AUS)

Henley Royal Regatta

* 1920 - Diamond Challenge Sculls
* 1923 - Grand Challenge Cup
* 1924 - Diamond Challenge Sculls
* 1925 - Diamond Challenge Sculls
* 1926 - Diamond Challenge Sculls
* 1928 - Grand Challenge Cup
* 1928 - Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup
* 1929 - Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup
* 1932 - Stewards Challenge Cup
* 1939 - Centenary Double Sculls (dead heat with G Scherli & R Broschi of SCNT)

Wingfield Sculls

* 1920
* 1921
* 1922
* 1923
* 1924
* 1925
* 1926


* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/sydney/story/0,,371689,00.html Guardian article on Beresford]
* [http://www.olympic.org/uk/athletes/profiles/bio_uk.asp?PAR_I_ID=53255 IOC Biography on Beresford]
* [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9002617/Jack-Beresford Britanica article on Beresford]
* [http://www.gbrathletics.com/commonwealth/rowing.htm Commonwealth Games Medallists]

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