Article chronicles the Olympic odyssey of Harlan W. Holden ’13
The 1911 Bates track team featured two future Olympians, seated next to each other in this Mirror photo: Vaughn Blanchard ’12 (front row, fourth from the left) and Harlan Holden ’13 (fifth from the left).
Bobcats in the Olympics
The latest Bates Olympian is Andrew Byrnes ’05, a rower on the Canadian men’s eight currently competing in Beijing and vying to be Bates’ first Olympic medalist. Bates’ past Olympians include Mike Ferry ’97, who competed in the double sculls at Sydney in 2000; Justin Freeman ’98, a Nordic skier for the U.S. at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy; Nordic skier Nancy Ingersoll Fiddler ’78, who competed at Calgary in 1988; and runner Arnold Adams ’33, who was a member of the U.S. team at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics but did not compete due to a foot injury.
The Worcester, Mass., native failed to qualify for the U.S. team heading to the 1912 Summer Olympics at Stockholm, Sweden, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, but some “hectoring” from a Telegram editor landed him a reserve spot on the team. That meant Holden had to pay his way to Sweden. So the paper ran a front-page ad rallying citizens to Holden’s cause, and they quickly raise $350.10, more than enough to send Holden off.
In Sweden, the 6-foot-4, 170-pound Holden didn’t make it out of preliminary heats and finished 17th overall in the 800 meters, with a qualifying heat time of 1:58.1. But upon his return to Worcester he reassured fellow citizens that their money had been well spent. “It was surely the best time of my life, the most wonderful trip I ever made, and I’m sure it will be the best I will ever make,” he told the Telegram.
Holden, who attended Bates for two years, crossed the Atlantic again to serve in World War I and was named an honorary officer of the British Empire by the King George V. He died in 1968.
Vaughn S. Blanchard, Class of 1912, made it to the Games in a more conventional way, finishing first in the 110-meter hurdles at the Eastern Olympic Trials in Cambridge, Mass.
More than 200 members of the Bates community offered a rousing sendoff for Blanchard on June 11. “The track men presented him with a silver loving cup and the student body made up a purse to show their enthusiasm,” the yearbook reads. At Stockholm, the 6-1, 165-pound Blanchard placed 15th in 110-meter hurdles, with an estimated heat time of 16.0 seconds.
Both Blanchard and Holden also competed in a baseball demonstration event at the Olympics, according to sports-reference.com.
During their Bates track careers, Holden set a New England Championships record of 1:56.4 in the half mile in 1911, while Blanchard recorded a state record time of 16.0 seconds in the 120-yard hurdles to lead Bates past Maine in the 1912 state championships.