By Pat Hase
During this year’s Olympics in Rio there has been a lot of discussion of multiple medal winners and this chart appeared during the TV presentation.
Paul RADMILOVIC, now equal 6th in this table, held the record for the most gold medals - 4 - won by a member of the GB team from 1920 until Sir Steve REDGRAVE won his 5th gold medal in Sydney in 2000.
Paulo Francesco RADMILOVIC, also known as “Raddy” was born in Cardiff on the 5th March 1886. His father, Antonio RADMILOVIC, was born in Ragusa, Austria but was naturalised a British Citizen in Dec 1886 (see National Archives). Antonio was the landlord of the Glastonbury Arms in Bute Street, Cardiff.
As a youth, he was an outstanding footballer, a successful amateur boxer, and had won more than twenty prizes for athletics as a teenager. In later life he was a good golfer and bowler. (see Oxford DNB). He was playing for the highly successful Weston-super-Mare water polo team from about 1905. The games were very popular and drew many spectators to the Knightstone Baths where the matches were played. Water polo was a little different in those days – they played with a heavy leather ball with teams of just seven – not the 13-a–side spectacle of today. This highlights the problem of family historians trying to interpret and equate historical activities.
Paulo was a strong swimmer and successful in many national and international swimming competitions. He is pictured below wearing some of his medals.
His 3rd gold was won in Stockholm in 1912 when he was captain of the water polo team.
WW1 caused a gap in the Olympics so it wasn’t until in Antwerp in 1920 that he won his 4th gold medal – again for water polo.
He made the water polo team again in 1920 and 1924 but didn't win any medals. However he had made an appearance in 5 consecutive Olympics.
He was married at St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Weston on the 23 Nov 1909 to Margaret Georgina PALMER. They had three children and I noticed that the birth of the last, in 1921 was registered in Bath. The newspapers are a wonderful source of information and it was from the Bath Chronicle that I discovered that in 1923 he was the owner of the Royal York Hotel in Bath but was returning to live in Weston transferring the license to Frank PALMER, his manager. Frank Albert Arthur PALMER was born in Weston-super-Mare and was a younger brother of Paulo’s wife.
His elder brother, John RADMILOVIC, also moved to Weston and became the licensee of the Globe Inn in St James Street. Sadly he died during WW1. Following in his father's and brother's career path Paulo and each of his two sons, Paul junior, and Peter became landlords of west country public houses including the Angel and the Royal York at Bath, the George Inn at Bathampton, a Hotel at Severn Beach and the Railway Inn and the Imperial Hotel in Weston.
To sum up, Paulo RADMILOVIC was a great Olympian but also in recognition of his swimming successes achieved the honour of being the first Briton to be given a place in the Sporting Hall of Fame in Florida. His memory is kept alive in Weston by Raddys Café and Bar on the sea front.
Paul RADMILOVIC died in 1968 and is buried in Weston Cemetery having lived in Weston since 1904. His grave carries an engraving of the Olympic Rings and the words:
As a post script – Paulo RADMILOVIC wasn’t the only Weston resident to take part in the early Olympic Games. Golf returned to the Olympics this year having only been featured in 1900 and 1904. In 1900 in Paris a George THORNE took part and finished sixth. George who lived at Highbury Parade, Weston, was buried in Hutton Church yard in 1907. Although George THORNE was born in Australia his father was a Bristol merchant and mother was one of the BISDEE family of Hutton and Tasmania.