Unravelling the riddle of the forgotten Irishman who won a World Track Champs medal

Posted on: February 26th, 2014

Everyone thinks Harry Reynolds (above) was the last Irish rider to win a medal at a World Track Championships before Caroline Ryan in 2012; not so.


By Graham Healy

Prior to Caroline Ryan’s bronze medal in the points race at the Melbourne World Track Championships in 2012, it appeared the last Irish Worlds track medal was won by Harry Reynolds way back in 1897 at Celtic Park in Glasgow.

This followed on from his gold in the amateur sprint the year before in Copenhagen. However, not is all as it seems.

The winter after claiming gold, Harry Reynolds travelled to Australia to take part in track races there; starting in Western Australia before travelling on to Sydney and Melbourne.

He seems to have been competing in numerous competitions throughout Australia that year and notched up many wins during the summer months of the Northern hemisphere.

In the days before flight, it didn’t seem possible that he could also fit in competing at the World Championships back in Europe in the middle of all of this. It would have required a round-trip by sea of at least three or four months.

However, all references to the World Championships from 1897 show Harry Reynolds having taken the bronze medal in the amateur track sprint, with Edwin Schrader of Denmark winning the gold and WP Fawcett of Great Britain winning the silver.

However, after a trawl of the records and newspaper clippings, stickybottle has found an old archive newspaper article which shows it was “R Reynolds” rather than Harry Reynolds who won bronze in Glasgow.

R Reynolds turns out to be Harry’s younger brother Robert, who was also a great rider and won numerous Irish titles.

Harry had originally been pencilled in earlier in the year to travel to Glasgow for the Worlds. But he stayed on in Australia longer than planned and his brother took his place.

For decades Harry has been getting the credit for an achievement by his brother. And it wasn’t only cycling that the younger Reynolds excelled at.

He also happened to be a very good footballer; playing in goal for Dublin club Bohemians. He also won a cap for the Irish team in 1905.

This quite possibly makes him the first and only person to ever win a World Cycling Championships medal and also play international football.

It also means the Reynolds brothers were the first siblings to win World Cycling Championships medals.