Jack London

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John “Jack” London was the first black British athlete to win an Olympic medal

The first Olympic medals to be won by a black British athlete are being put up for auction.

Valued at more than £3,500, the medals belonged to John “Jack” London, who won a bronze and silver medal in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam.

The collection featured on the BBC’s Antiques Road Show when his great niece Christine Downham, from Rossendale, had them valued.

She hopes they will be placed in a museum.

Mr London was born in 1905 in British Guiana, now Guyana. He moved to London as a baby, had a spell back in British Guiana before returning to London.

He scooped a bronze medal in the 4×4 100m relay and a silver medal in the 100m sprint.

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The collection has been valued at more than £3,500

Mrs Downham, said the medals had “just been stuck in a cupboard where no one can see them”.

She added: “Because my great uncle was the first black athlete to win Olympic medals for Great Britain, perhaps his collection deserves to be in a museum.

“We’re very proud of his achievements. The medals came to me after my dad passed away four years ago. He loved talking about Jack.”

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London (second from bottom) won silver in the 100m sprint in 1928

The 60-year old retired pub licensee said the Antiques Roadshow experts told her the items were worth at least £3,500.

“I never met Jack but my dad did,” she continued.

“Apparently, he was quite a character and a bit of a ladies’ man. He was very talented. He was academic, brilliant at sport and very musical. He ended up on stage and in a film.”

The items, which also include a trophy, photos and relay batons, will go under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers in Derbyshire on 19 November.

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