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Have there been any vegan Olympic champions?


QUESTION Have there been any vegan Olympic champions?

Carl Lewis was one of the greatest Olympians of all time. He won nine Olympic and eight World Championship golds, in sprinting and long jump. 

He went vegan in 1990. He has claimed his plant-based diet rejuvenated him as an athlete. 

As a vegan, he won two golds at the 1992 Barcelona games, in the long jump and the 4 x 100m relay, and the long jump gold at Atlanta in 1996, aged 35.

Alex Morgan, a U.S. women’s football striker and model, who won Olympic gold with the U.S. team at London 2012, turned vegan in 2017. She was also a 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup winner.

Carl Lewis of the USA in action in the Long Jump final during the 1984 Olympic Games

Carl Lewis of the USA in action in the Long Jump final during the 1984 Olympic Games

Canadian figure skater Meagan Duhamel, who won a team gold in the 2018 Winter Olympics, became a vegan in December 2008. 

She said: ‘I tried to go vegan and quit drinking Diet Coke all in one night, and going vegan was a lot easier than quitting the Diet Coke!’

Serena Williams, 23-time tennis Grand Slam winner and four-time Olympic gold medallist, has been vegan since 2012. 

She made the change after her sister Venus, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, was diagnosed with Sjogren syndrome, an autoimmune disorder. 

The sisters have been known to cheat on occasion with their diets, dubbing themselves ‘chegans’.

Other elite vegan sports stars include F1’s Lewis Hamilton, Australian cricketer Kane Richardson and tennis bad boy Nick Kyrgios.

Jean Murphy, Inverness.

QUESTION What was the world’s oldest known curse?

Tutankhamun's tomb is said to be cursed after the mysterious deaths that followed the 19th-century excavation

Tutankhamun’s tomb is said to be cursed after the mysterious deaths that followed the 19th-century excavation

The Ancient Egyptians have been associated with the idea of curses, although this is mostly related to the mysterious deaths that followed the 19th-century excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamun, which led to the idea of the ‘Curse of King Tut’ and the ‘Curse of the Pharaohs’.

The tombs of Ancient Egyptian pharaohs held messages called ‘tomb curses’, effectively warnings not to trespass or desecrate a grave.

It was the Ancient Greeks who embraced the idea of curses. 

They would make curse tablets: small, thin sheets of lead inscribed with maledictions, spells and prayers against rivals, lovers and wrongdoers. 

After writing, the tablet was folded or rolled and the ends of the sheet were tucked over, making the document legible to the god alone.

The Greek term for these tablets, katadesmos, derives from the verb katadein, to ‘tie up’ or ‘bind down’. More than 2,000 such tablets are known today from antiquity.

The earliest known examples come from the city of Selinus in Sicily, dating to the late 6th or early 5th centuries BC. 

Many also survive from Athens of the 5th and 4th centuries BC and from the later centuries of the Roman empire, including Britain. 

An early example from Selinus is, ‘Let the affairs of Odoris and Asron be unfulfilled, and the words and deeds of Odoris and Asron, and let whoever else speaks on their behalf be unfulfilled, I inscribe them all here!’

These curses were taken very seriously. Pliny the Elder, writing in the first century AD, stated: ‘There is no one who does not fear to be spellbound by curse tablets’ (Natural Histories 28.4.19).

James Beale, Nottingham.

QUESTION There is a statue in Northampton of the MP Charles Bradlaugh. What were his achievements?

Statue of political activist Charles Bradlaugh in Northampton

Statue of political activist Charles Bradlaugh in Northampton

Charles Bradlaugh (1833-91) was a prominent political activist, atheist and advocate for secularism. Born in London, he worked as a solicitor’s clerk. 

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Clive Gladstone, Cullercoats, Tyne and Wear.

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Theresa Christopher, Leyland, Lancs.

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AJune Kennedy, Rainham, Essex.

He became involved in radical politics and was active in promoting secularism, advocating for the separation of church and state. He co-founded the National Secular Society in 1866.

He achieved national notoriety through pamphleteering in support of republicanism, trade unionism, universal suffrage and birth control, but his most famous battle was his fight to take his seat in the House of Commons after being elected as the MP for Northampton in 1880.

As an atheist, he refused to swear the oath of allegiance required for MPs to take their seat. He requested to make an affirmation instead, but the House refused. 

This impasse ended only when the Oaths Act 1888 allowed MPs to make an affirmation instead of an oath.

The terracotta statue of Bradlaugh, sculpted by George Tinworth, was unveiled in 1894. It represents him forcefully addressing the House, index finger pointed. 

A fine bust of Bradlaugh in Portcullis House by Suzie Zamit was unveiled in 2016.

Alan Crofts, Dorchester, Dorset.



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