Expectations of Eric Lemming were high at the 1912 Olympic Games and he did not disappoint, taking the gold medal in the javelin with a throw of 60.64 metres, a feat that not even his arch-rival the Finn Saaristo could match. By this time, Lemming was 32 years of age and already the greatest Swedish athlete of the early twentieth century, a man of many talents with 23 Olympic competitions behind him across four games.
Lemming’s speciality was the javelin, and he won four Olympic golds in freestyle, both hands and modern style (if one includes the 1906 Intercalated Games in Athens). Lemming competed in the Olympic Games of 1900, 1906, 1908 and 1912, competing in the shot put, ancient pentathlon, tug-of-war, discus, pole vault, high jump, long jump, triple jump, hammer and stone throw.
To modern ears, it may sound strange that someone could excel in so many events, but in the infancy of modern athletics it was not unusual for talented sportspeople to take every opportunity to compete. Born in Gothenburg in 1880, Eric Lemming was a 25-time Swedish champion in the javelin, discus, hammer and pole vault. He broke the javelin world record on no less than nine occasions. Lemming was also appreciated for his social skills. He had a lust for life and a musical bent; he was the life and soul of many a party, charming guests with his piano playing and sunny disposition. He was eventually appointed director of Systembolaget, Sweden’s state-owned chain of liquor stores. Lemming died in 1930 at the age of 50, greatly mourned by all of Swedish sport.