The Common Runner – Week 28, 2014


Live pigeon shooting

The 1900 Olympics in Paris featured this murderous sport. Birds were released, one at a time, some 50 metres in front of a competitor armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, and the marksman continued to blow birds out of the sky until his second miss. Belgian Leon de Lunden eventually killed 21 winged rats to win from Maurice Faure of France (20 kills), with Donald McIntosh (Australia) and Crittenden Robinson (GBR) tying for the bronze medal with 18 dead birds each. Nearly 400 pigeons were slaughtered, making the event a great favourite with pest control advocates, but causing much complaint from the cleaner’s union: the venue was splattered with blood, feathers and dead birds, with injured ones flapping about in agony. This scene distressed many spectators, so from the London Games in 1908 onwards, live pigeons were replaced by clay ones.

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