It was the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris.┬áHermanus, born on June 14, 1871 was a 29 year-old coxswain for the rowing team from the Netherlands. Coxswains (pronounced “cox-in”) are the people in the front of the boat who shout ‘stroke’ ‘stroke’.

You might recall that the Olympics had been revived by Baron de Coubertin in 1896 with the first contest in Athens. The Greeks wanted all the games all the time, but the International Olympic Committee and de Coubertin were determined to move the event around.

The problem with Paris, however, was that the event was overshadowed by the newly completed Eiffel Tower, and the 1900 Paris Exhibition. Nevertheless, the Paris Games set several important milestones including the first woman’s event (tennis) and 1,225 athletes from 26 nations.

Hermanus, according to the Olympics database, won the following medals:

  • Gold medal in the Coxed Mens Pairs (7:34.2)
  • Silver medal in the Coxed Fours Mens (6:03.0)
  • Silver medal in a second final of the Coxed Fours Mens
  • Bronze medal in the Eights Mens (6:23.0)

There was also a controversy about the Gold medal, since there is a photograph of the mens pairs with an unidentified child in the coxswain seat. It has been speculated that Hermanus, at 60 kg (still pretty light) may have been replaced in the final race with a young boy.

Wikipedia article.

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