Lord's hosts Olympic Archery

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Cricket has only featured once in the Olympics - at Paris in 1900 when the amateur team Dorset Wanderers defeated a Parisian XI in a one-off match.

But cricket grounds themselves do have a closer involvement with Olympic history. Most notably, the Melbourne Cricket Ground served as the main venue for track and field events at the 1956 games. Prior to 2012, Lord’s had never hosted an Olympic event, but there was one prior link to the games. In June 1904, during meetings which were to decide that the 1908 games would be awarded to Rome, a delegation from the International Olympic Committee visited Lord’s where they were met by Lord Darnley, WG Grace and one-time world record holder in the long-jump CB Fry. The delegation stayed to watch part of the Middlesex v South Africa match - seeing Bernard Bosanquet hit a rapid century - then departed for Regent’s Park, to observe an archery tournament.

Some coincidence, then, that it was archery which finally gave Lord’s its place in Olympic history. In the weeks leading up to the games, the fact that a cricket ground would be hosting an archery tournament caused great interest in the world media and TV crews from countries including Brazil, South Korea and Mexico descended upon the Ground. Then, for one week between Friday 27 July and Friday 3 August, Lord’s looked a very different place indeed. The archers shot from in front of the Pavilion across the cricket square towards targets 70 metres away in front of the Media Centre. Temporary stands were set up on the edge of the square to hold up to 5,000 spectators. By the end of the competition South Korea had won gold medals in both men’s and women’s individual events and the women’s team event. Italy claimed the men’s team gold.

Perhaps the greatest logistical challenge which faced MCC in the staging of the event came in its aftermath. Just 13 days after the competition’s conclusion, South Africa were due to arrive for a Test Match, and when the temporary stands were removed it was clear that the dead turf underneath needed to be replaced. That the outfield looked, and played, perfectly during the Test Match must rank as one of the greatest achievements in the history of the Lord’s groundstaff.