From the battlefields of the Great War, to the 1920 Olympics … still running. On the morning of July 1, 1916, at Beaumont-Hamel, most of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment climbed out of their trenches and advanced into no man’s land.
Eric Mackenzie Robertson went over the top on that fateful day―and survived. Almost unbelievably, just four years later and despite his war injuries, Robertson would become the first born-and-bred Newfoundlander to compete in the Olympics.
With her engaging journalistic style, Newfoundland Quarterly editor Joan Sullivan―author of the award-winning In The Field―returns to tell the story of a devastating war, a lost Olympiad and one man’s extraordinary journey through the battlefield and into history.
As a devoted runner herself, Ms. Sullivan says she related to how a war veteran could use the sport as emotional, mental and physical therapy.
“I first heard about Eric Robertson when Bert Riggs wrote about him for the Reveille piece he creates regularly for the NQ,” she said. “I just couldn’t get the image of this soldier out of my head―one who had used running as therapy to recover from his war injuries, who managed to run from the trauma of war.”
On the field he was a statistical anomaly. His country was Newfoundland but he wore the bib of the British team. He was and always will be the only Newfoundland-born athlete to try and represent the independent country of Newfoundland at an Olympics.