Derby

'Overlooked' female swimmer's medals up for sale in Derbyshire

Lucy Morton and her gold medal Image copyright Hansons
Image caption Lucy Morton was the first female British swimmer to be awarded a solo gold medal at the Olympics

The first Olympic gold medal won by a British woman in swimming is due to go on sale at auction.

"Long-forgotten" athlete Lucy Morton won gold at the 1924 Olympics shortly after a car crash.

The former three-time world record holder was told by a teacher to take up swimming after being called "the biggest dunce" at her school.

Derbyshire-based auctioneers Hansons said the cache of 39 medals and archive could be worth up to £40,000.

Before competing in the 200m breaststroke at the Olympics in Paris, the Blackpool swimmer lost five teeth in a taxi crash.

In her memoirs, she wrote: "I don't know how it happened but I found myself on the pavement.

"I continued to train and won my heat."

Image copyright Pictoria Pictures
Image caption The Blackpool-based athlete broke two world records before her swimming career was stalled by World War One

Auctioneer Charles Hanson said: "This archive tells the story of one of Britain's greatest but, perhaps, long-forgotten and overlooked Olympians."

Her medal has been estimated to be worth between £10,000 and £12,000.

'Swimming pioneer'

In her memoirs, which are also being auctioned, she wrote: "At the age of 10 I was at Christchurch School in Blackpool and Mrs Phillips, the headmistress, sent a note to my father stating that I was the biggest dunce in the school and suggested swimming might brighten my ideas up a bit."

She was born in New Tatton, Cheshire, in 1898 and died in Blackpool in 1980.

Her granddaughter Julia Routledge said she was a "swimming pioneer".

"No-one expected her to win the Olympic gold in 1924 as the Americans had been winning everything," she said.

Morton's win meant the prize-giving ceremony was delayed as judges had prepared a US flag and the American anthem to be played.

Image copyright Pictoria Pictures
Image caption A bracelet made of gold medals awarded for breaking world records is also being put on sale

Alongside 15 gold and 25 silver medals, Morton's Olympic victor vase, and a bracelet made out of gold medals awarded for breaking world records are also being put up for sale.

The auction will take place on 22 August.


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