Barometer: When Britain was good at the Winter Olympics

Plus: The countries with most cancer, and where the Tube runs all night

8 February 2014

9:00 AM

8 February 2014

9:00 AM

Our first winter

Hopes will not be high for a big haul of British medals in Sochi, but we have not always been Cinderellas at winter sports. In the first Winter Olympics in Chamonix in 1924 Britain sent 44 competitors, more than any other country, and ended up sixth in the medals, above the host nation, France.
— There were bronze medals for the men’s ice hockey team and the less-than-elegantly named Ethel Muckelt. The men’s four/five-man bobsleigh won a silver. The men’s curling team won gold — although the medals were not presented until 2006 after a campaign by Scottish newspapers.
— One of the curling team, Major D.G. Astley, achieved a unique honour. Besides being awarded gold for Great Britain, he was somehow allowed to play for Sweden against France in the play-off for silver. Sweden won, so Major Astley won a gold and silver in the same event.

Tropics of cancer

The World Health Organisation predicted that the number of new cases of cancer worldwide could increase by 70% to 25 million a year over the next 20 years. This is one disease where the developing world does not lead the way. Here are the countries with the highest recorded incidence, age-standardised, per 100,000 population:

Denmark 338
France 325
Australia 323
Belgium 321
Norway 318
US 318

The pits

Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith says there is not a ‘bottomless pit’ for flood defences. How does the flood defence budget compare with some other forms of government spending this financial year?

Coastal Communities Fund, to revitalise seaside resorts £28m
Agri-environmental schemes £476m
Flood defence budget £533m
Renewable energy subsidies £1.99bn
Rail subsidies £2.2bn
Single Farm Payment £2.5bn

24-hour transport people

A reminder to Bob Crow of some of at least 43 cities around the world which run fully-automated metro systems:
Barcelona, Budapest, Chicago, Copenhagen, Dubai, Istanbul, Lausanne, Lille, Manila, Nuremburg, Paris, Rennes, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Seoul, Tokyo, Turin, Vancouver

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  • Bob Cowan

    Lazy journalism this. You should not take as gospel everything you find on Wikipedia. The four members of Willie Jackson’s British curling team did receive their gold medals back in 1924. This was confirmed in 2006. The four reserves did not get medals. Major DG Astley, a reserve, did NOT compete for Sweden. Nor did any of the reserves. See here: