Dulwich “Chariots of Fire” Coach to get Blue Plaque

A blue plaque is being unveiled in a short ceremony at 11.30 on Wednesday 11th July at 84 Burbage Road. All are welcome to come and celebrate a Dulwich sporting great.

Only think of two things - the gun and the tape. When you hear the one, just run like hell until you break the other.

The athletics coach Scipio Africanus “Sam” Mussabini (1867-1927) is to be commemorated with an English Heritage blue plaque at his former home at 84 Burbage Road. A pioneering figure in both professional and amateur sport in Britain, Sam transformed athletics. The house backs on to the Herne Hill Velodrome, where he worked as a cycling and athletics coach from the 1890s until his death and where he trained many medal-winning Olympic athletes.

Mussabini’s innovative training methods led to his runners winning eleven Olympic medals, including five gold. He addressed every aspect of training, using scientific methods, and instilled powerful self-belief in his athletes. He is best known for coaching Harold Abrahams, who won gold in the 100m sprint at the 1924 Paris Olympics. Mussabini’s vital role in Abrahams’ success was later immortalised in the film Chariots of Fire (1981), in which he was played by Ian Holm. Mussabini also helped to ensure female athletes received high quality coaching. He told his athletes, “Only think of two things - the gun and the tape. When you hear the one, just run like hell until you break the other”.

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