Sir George Thomas Bart

Sir George Thomas Bart
England
Born: 15 June, 1881 Died: 23 July, 1972

Sir George Thomas was an English baronet and the founding President of the International Badminton Federation (IBF), a post he held for 21 years (1934 - 1955). Sir George oversaw the rapid early spread of the sport internationally. He never missed a meeting, re-wrote the Laws of Badminton and was a frequent umpire at major events. He was Vice-President of the Badminton Association of England from 1930-50 and its President from 1950-52.

Sir George had a stellar badminton playing career and won 21 All England titles between 1906 and 1926.

He excelled in many spheres of life and was a Grand Master and twice English Chess champion, was described as "invincible at ping-pong" (table tennis), reached the semi-finals of the All-England Tennis Men's Doubles, played inter-county hockey and was an accomplished equestrian.

The measure of the extraordinary qualities of this man goes far beyond the number of badminton championships and tournaments that he won during one of the longest playing careers of any athlete. He was a gentleman, writer, administrator, benefactor, a doughty soldier, grand master at chess and an athlete of note in several other sports.

George Alan Thomas was born in Istanbul (Constantinople), Turkey, on 14 June 1881, presumably to parents who were both wealthy and members of the aristocracy of the British Empire that graced that period of time. He never denied his background yet never flaunted it. His shyness hid a great intellect and, in spite of his competence in almost everything that he undertook, he was a person of wonderful modesty and humility.

He began his badminton career at the Southsea Club, the early home club of Colonel Dolby, and within three months was in the semi-finals of the All-England in 1900. He was to compete every year for the next 28 except for the four-year period of the First World War.

During his playing career he won 78 national titles in the United Kingdom and a further 12 French titles; he also competed in 29 out of 30 English internationals, winning 50 matches in the process.

Thomas's successes at the All-England did not begin until 1903 when he won the mixed doubles, partnered by the early ladies 'great', Ethel Thomson. He really started to make his name in 1906 when he again won the mixed with Thomson and achieved the first of nine men's doubles titles; this was also the first of four he was to win with Dr H N Marrett.

The next year Thomas launched his attack on other titles, with victories in the singles, men's and mixed doubles in Scotland. He was to dominate the championship scene in Ireland and France until the outbreak of the First World War. By that time he had won 90 titles in all, including 15 Scottish, 14 Irish, 12 French and 10 All-England.

During the early part of his career he edited The Badminton Gazette from 1907-12 and was joint-editor with Lavinia Radeglia from 1913-15. Later he was to write several editions of The Art of Badminton.

In the First World War he served as an army officer and in undaunting fashion marched with his troops across more than 300 kilometres of the Mesopotamian desert. It was also said that he rejected the opportunity to ride his horse, choosing rather to 'footslog' with his troops.

It was after the -war that he inherited a baronetcy and became Sir George Thomas Bart.

In the pre-war All-England competitions Thomas had never beaten Frank Chesterton. Dr H N Marrett or the Swiss Comte Sautter de Beauregaard (Guy Sautter), They were outstanding players and on the resumption of the All-England in 1920 it must have appeared to all that, at nearly 39 years of age, George Thomas's life as a badminton athlete was over.

However the redoubtable Sir George astounded England by winning the first of four successive All-England singles titles and three successive mixed doubles titles with Hazel Hogarth (he had previously won with Hogarth in 1914). He was to win three more men's doubles with Frank Hodge in 1921, 1924 and 1928, the last at age 47.

In those final years of competition he added another 16 Scottish and 12 Irish titles - the last a men's doubles in 1929 with Major Johnnie McCallum, later an IBF President and Life Member.

Sir George was a stickler for punctuality, but there was an occasion in Scotland when he was challenged to chess by 29 inmates of a local gaol. After easily vanquishing 28 of them, he was delayed by the 29th, a convicted 'con-man'. This breach of punctuality was overlooked by the championship organisers.

Sir George, a Grand Master and twice English Chess champion, was described by Pat Davis as "invincible at ping-pong" (table tennis). He also reached the semi-finals of the All-England Tennis Men's Doubles, played inter-county hockey and was an accomplished equestrian.

He took teams to Canada and Europe and this increased his desire for badminton to be an international sport. To this end he encouraged The Badminton Association to establish the International Badminton Federation and this was done in 1934. As President for 21 years, he never missed a meeting, re-wrote the laws and was a frequent umpire at major events. He was Vice-President of the Badminton Association of England from 1930-50 and its President from 1950-52.

It was George Thomas who proposed the Men's World Team Championship and in 1939 gave a magnificent cup for this, the oldest of the IBF's three prestigious team events. The Thomas Cup was first played in 1948-9 in Preston, England and Sir George was there to make the presentation to the Malaya team which beat Denmark 8-1.

He was a truly remarkable man with an impeccable record on and off the court. He was never known to quibble an umpire's decision and even 'stood down' from the BA Selection Committee Chairmanship when his position in the England team was under challenge.

The most visible aspect of Sir George’s legacy is the Thomas Cup for the World Men’s Team Championships which is hosted every second year (even years).

The IBF received the Thomas Cup from Sir George in 1939. Engraved on the front of the cup are the words 'The International Badminton Championship Challenge Cup presented to the International Badminton Federation by Sir. George Thomas, Bart., 1939". However, owing to the intervention of World War II it was not until 1948 that the first Championships could be staged.

Sir George Alan Thomas died on 23 July 1972 - a legend as a player, administrator and gentleman.

 -- By William Kings

George thomas Malaysia  denmark introduced to sir george Sir george at the draw Sir george thomas The thomas cup 2 Sir george rewards choong brothers - all england 51