1930 – 2010
When Lionel Cox linked with Russell Mockridge to ride in the 2000 metres tandem event at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, it seemed like a case of mission impossible. The two men, utterly different in background and personality, had never shared much experience before - and certainly none on a bicycle built for two. Cox had never even ridden one. Their bike had been discarded by the British team, and brought from London to Helsinki by Mockridge. “Blokes who’ve trained on tandems for years wouldn’t have done what we did,” Cox recalled years later. “But we gave it a go. We had one kick and a ride, and we jelled.” So well did the pair combine that less than a week later they won the tandem gold medal.
Between them, they arranged to ride in two other track events: the 1000m sprint and the 1000m time trial. “Mocker” had beaten the best sprinters in the world in Paris a few weeks earlier, but he offered to take on the time trial - an event he hated - while Cox tackled the sprint. Mockridge went on to win gold in the time trial, and Cox finished with silver after finishing half a wheel behind the Italian Enzo Sacchi.
Mockridge had studied at Geelong College, Melbourne University and an Anglican ministry. Cox was a knockabout youngster whose mates at the Sydney fruit markets had conducted raffles to help him pay his way to Helsinki. His mother also took out a mortgage on her cottage to help with the fares. After the Games, Cox rode successfully on the European circuit, and later took on coaching.
Harry Gordon, AOC Historian