Let Us Now Praise Barry Larkin

The year was 1956 and Australia had been diagnosed with Olympic Fever as Melbourne was to host the Games of the Sixteenth Olympiad. Meanwhile, a few students at the University of Sydney, led by Barry Larkin and Peter Gralton, weren’t pleased with the attention and reverence that the torch relay was receiving. Their main reason they disliked the pomp and circumstance was that the torch relay was the brainchild of a chap named Adolf Hitler, who created the relay for the 1936 games in Berlin as a show of Nazi strength. Conveniently, the torch was going to pass through Sydney and be presented to the Mayor who in turn would give a speech. So, Larkin and eight other students hatched a plan.

One of the hoaxsters was to dress in a white shirt and whiter running shorts carrying a fake torch. This torch was made of a silver painted chair leg, a jam tin and a kerosene soaked pair of underwear. Larkin, Gralton an another conspirator arrived along the route wearing white and lit the flame. The third man went running with the torch, but eventually lost his nerve and dropped it on the street. Soon after, Gralton picked it up, handed it to Larkin and with a swift kick sent him down the road with false torch in hand.

Larkin ran the rest of the route with a police escort to the Sydney Town Hall and gave the torch to Lord Mayor Pat Hills. Hills began his speech, Larkin ducked into the crown and by the time Harry Dillon showed up with the real torch, there was much confusion for the Mayor and the remaining spectators. Upon returning to the University, Larkin was congratulated by the college’s rector and received a standing ovation upon entering one of his classes. He would go on to become a veterinary surgeon.

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About Michael Darling
Collector of the interesting and absurd.

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