How To Win. Sir A. Conan Doyle on British Sport

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

How To Win. Sir A. Conan Doyle on British Sport is an article published in the Daily Mail on 5 august 1912, including a part of an interview with Arthur Conan Doyle.

How To Win

Daily Mail (5 august 1912, p. 7)

Sir A. Conan Doyle on British Sport.

"We Must be Brilliant at Berlin."

"To wipe out the stigma of Stockholm we must prepare now to be brilliant at Berlin." In words to this effect did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle express himself to a representative of The Daily Mail who questioned him on Saturday on the subject of the letter he had written to the Advisory Committee of the Olympic Games.

Sir Arthur had just come in from the field, after smiting a sturdy innings of 51 for the Sussex Martlets against the Harrow Blues — in the course of which innings he had hit a couple of sixes and several fours.

"We must undoubtedly," he said, "take very seriously to heart the lesson of our defeats at Stockholm and take care that they do not occur again. The material we have is right enough; it is the method that is wrong. We send out to represent England men who are excellent athletes enough — there is no doubt as to that. But many of these men, up to a day or two of leaving England, have been engaged at their ordinary employments, often enough of by no means an athletic kind."

The interviewer mentioned an instance of a competitor who was behind the counter of a linen-draper's the day before he sailed.

"Exactly," said Sir Arthur. "That is an instance of what I mean. How can such a man hold his own against athletes who have been in rigorous training for several weeks beforehand, under the care of a professional trainer, and doing nothing else but training. The fact is, the public of England will have to put their hands in their pockets; let them bring out half-crowns as well as thousand-pound notes. They will have to say to the athletes they wish to represent them, 'Now, what are you going to lose for giving up business for so many weeks and going into camp for training?'"

To do the thing properly, he was sure, a sum of at least £25,000 would have to be raised before the Berlin sports arrive. As to the means of carrying this out, Sir Arthur hesitated.

Discipline for Athletes.

"I don't want to any too much about that just now," he observed. "This is a time when silence is golden. I think we shall get what is necessary. We have, as you know, an Advisory Committee. There are some fifty gentlemen, all excellent fellows, most of them distinguished exponents of their particular sport. Whether they are men of business who understand how to finance an undertaking is a matter I cannot speak upon. But we must have such men of business to manage matters. If the present Advisory Committee can supply such men, all well and good. All we ask is that they shall do so. We must ask them to organise themselves into a small Executive Committee of practical men. They should have sub-committees to attend to particular branches, and, more especially, a strong Finance Committee."

Sir Arthur emphasised the point that he had no thought of setting himself up in antagonism to the existing Advisory Committee; he wished only to see them organise themselves so as to be able to do what is wanted. They will probably have to co-opt people of special experience.

"Our athletes, too, must allow themselves to be put under the necessary discipline, to learn what there is to be learned. We must get out of some of our grooves. On the Continent they throw the discus and hurl the javelin. Well, we must get a few discuses — or whatever the plural may be — and a few javelins, and throw them about. If it were a cricket ball, now——"

He looked at the stalwart flannelled figures getting ready to go out to field.

"The fact is," he added, "we in England go through three stages. The first is underrating our opponents, The second is humility. The third is learning from defeat and fitting ourselves to conquer. We have gone through the first two stages in the Olympic Games. Now we have to face the third."

Sir Arthur strode out to the field, and presently was put on to bowl. In his first over he got a wicket.