Olympian O’Hara

The fading glow of the Tokyo Olympic Games may be momentarily extended by another instalment in the O’Hara story, following an Olympic memoir from my visit to Berlin in 2017.

As related previously, my father was a member of the Australian team that competed at the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936. This month marks the 85th anniversary of that last pre-WW2 Games, in which Hitler’s plans to demonstrate German/Aryan superiority were thwarted almost single-handedly by US runner Jesse Owens.

John ‘Jack’ O’Hara was one of three wrestlers to be selected for the thirty-three member team, along with Dick Garrard, a wrestling mate, both from Melbourne, and Eddie Scarf from Sydney. 

An extract from his sporting biography relates in more detail the challenges faced by the wrestlers at those controversial Games. They were real amateurs having a go, and simply striving to do their country and supporters proud. And me too all these decades later.

Olympic Extract from The Sporting Life of John ‘Jack’ O’Hara

The story of the 1936 Australian Olympic team experience is more fully related by Larry Writer in his book ‘Dangerous Games: Australia at the 1936 Nazi Olympics’

After publication I was in contact with Larry. He regretted not having background on my father, who had been a real all-rounder, prominent in many sports – from water polo, rowing and diving to wrestling and weight lifting, spear fishing and round-Australia rally car driving

JOH was a multi-talented sportsman and a colourful character, to say the least.

(Left to right, O’Hara, Scarfe & Garrard. Below, the Australian team on S.S. Mongolia for their voyage to Marseilles, then train to Berlin; the flagged wrestling stadium; kangaroo mascot)



  1. Amazing Peter, thanks for sharing, loved the bit re wrestling the stormtroopers! A great adventure.Hope you’re both doing well .

  2. Thanks Chris, appreciate your interest. All going well enough out west – no need for lockdown under the enlightened guidance of Supreme Leader McGowan…

  3. A fitting tribute on the 85th anniversary of your Dad’s participation in the 1936 Berlin Games, and a touching insight into his experience as well as the spirit of the Australian team at that very unique time. Great to see his smiling face again.

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