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Kimberley’s Olympian: Bevil Rudd

Bevil Rudd, grandson of co-founder of the De Beers Mining Company with Cecil Rhodes, and son of Percy Rudd, long time Director of De Beers Consolidated Mines, was a superb sportsman. He died relatively young at age 53 (or 54) on 2 February 1948.
He did attend Christian Brothers’ College for a time, and was quite a scholar, being first in class (Standard VI) in 1907 as well as winning six prizes for athletics in 1903. After leaving CBC he attended St Andrews College in Grahamstown, and was then awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. He played a leading part in revitalizing the Oxford University Athletics Club.
He won three medals at the Antwerp Olympics in 1920: a gold medal in the 400 metres, a bronze medal in the 800 metres and a silver in the 4 x 400 metres relay event, a feat never to be equalled or bettered by any Kimberley citizen in the history of the city. He also won, in the same year, the British quarter and half-mile events, being awarded the Harvey memorial Gold Challenge Cup for the best athlete of the year in Great Britain.
In 1921 Bevil set the world record for the Quarter Mile.
(Not a very well known fact is that he trained for athletics with his sister Dolores, and invariably, she won! Father Percy used to sit and get the two siblings to run past him while he threw tennis balls at them, making them run faster! It must have worked and perhaps should be introduced to some of today’s athletes.)
After University he became a Master at Harrow, and was then appointed private secretary to Lord Birkenhead before returning to Kimberley in 1924. After a short period in the town he became a sports writer for the Cape Times in Cape Town, but in 1930 returned to Great Britain as a journalist for the Daily Telegraph. World War II saw him in the position of editor for the publications “War” and “Current affairs”, and in September 1946 he returned to Kimberley with his wife Ursula. He had two sons, John and Robin. John recently celebrated his 75th birthday at Rudd House in Kimberley.
He was also on the Board of selectors for Rhodes Scholarships in the Cape Province upon his return to South Africa.
In case one thinks his war service was limited to World War II, Bevil was a hero in World War I (1914-1918), serving first with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders before joining the innovative Tank Corps of Winston Churchill, being awarded the Military Cross for bravery.

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