RIP Dick Gradley: Olympic gymnast and masters rower

York City RC member Dick Gradley (1932-2022) competed as a gymnast at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome and was also an accomplished boxer and cyclist


After a career as a physiotherapist, Dick took up rowing in his retirement, and was a familiar sight in his single scull on the River Ouse. He briefly learned to row sweep in 2013 so that he could take part in the club’s 150th anniversary row-past at Henley Royal Regatta that year.

Club Chairman Phil Press says: “We first encountered him on the river paddling up and down in his canoe. He asked if he could use the showers.  This quickly led to having a go and the rest is as they history.”

Many members of the club benefitted from his generous lunchtime ‘walk-in’ physio service in the club gym where he was often spotted doing the splits as part of his warm up routine. He once remarked, “Once you’ve got flexibility, you mustn’t lose it. I stretch every day.”

Press adds: “His personality and ‘can do’ attitude were inspirational and made Dick many friends within the club. He will be missed. Not happy with learning to row he started winning indoor rowing medals and competed at the British Masters Championships. His warm words of encouragement to juniors and seniors alike were always appreciated and received in the manner they were intended. It was great to see that Dick never retired from sport, he just kept trying new ones and doing rather well at them.”

Obituaries from British Gymnastics and Gymnastics History tell more about his life in that sport.