Every week with RetroNews, the BNF press site, we take a look at a sports story as told by the press of the time. This Saturday, the rivalry and friendship between two discobolos from the 1930s, Jules Noël and Paul Winter.
Two French sportsmen, rivals but very respectful of each other, who compete for national, European or even world supremacy, it is unusual. Especially in athletics. And especially in a throwing discipline. Jules Noël and Paul Winter were these two champions, two discobolts whose battles were the delight of athletics fans in the 1930s.
Christmas is the first to enter the notoriety scene. Born in 1906 in Pas-de-Calais, worker at 13, he enlisted in the army in 1924. Thanks to his physical predispositions, he was assigned to the Higher School of Physical Education, a unit that welcomes sportsmen (it will be better known after the second war under the name of the Joinville battalion). He will even become a monitor there. Discus thrower, weight, brilliant fencer and fencing master, licensed since 1927 at the French Stadium, where he will meet Winter, Noël plays his first international athletics meeting in 1926. He accumulates records in France with incredible consistency. So in 1929 he improved his mark for the fifth time in the season, as recounted dawn August 19. “During this great meeting, followed by many spectators, stadion Jules Noël broke, for the fifth time this season, the French record for the disc, with a throw of 47.44 improving his previous record by 1 meter. Here, for documentary purposes, are the previous records broken by Jules Noël: 44 m, 45.48 m, 46.35 m and 47 m 44. “
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With his sporting excellence, Noël combines a charisma which propels him to the captaincy of the French athletics team. His predecessors were panting at this post, it’s not the kind of Christmas house, as the story goes Paris Evening, of August 21, 1930 on the eve of a match against Japan. “Jules Noël, stadion discobolus and fencing master at the Joinville school, is also, as we know, captain of the French athletics team. Until then this title was only an honorary thing and its holder, quietly, remained in the row, awaiting the events and not risking, the nose out only on the great occasions. Here is another tradition that is dying! Noël, perhaps precisely because he is a professional soldier, has the soul of a captain and nothing escapes his scrutinizing eye, his perspicacity. “
In the 1930s Noël and Winter snapped up, stole from each other, transplanted the French record for the discus throw. Each pushes the other to improve, rejoices l’Excelsior of September 21, 1931. “Many times the question was asked whether competition was useful in sporting events. The match in which our discobolus champions Jules Noël and Paul Winter have been engaged for several months is there to prove that it is not only useful, but essential. It is evident that these two remarkable specialists would not have made the progress which now makes them world-class athletes if a rivalry, purely sporting, moreover, had not made them stand one against each other. ” The day before, Winter launched his disc at 48.73 m, dispossessing the record of France Noël which had himself recovered the previous Sunday “On Monday morning Paul Winter rushes to the newspapers and eagerly seeks the report of the event in which Jules Noël took part the day before. Of course, Jules Noël does the same, imagine le journal. And these two athletes, both career non-commissioned officers at the Joinville School, have only one desire: to dispossess each other of the French record. “
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Paul Winter’s career strangely matches that of Jules Noël. Born in 1906 in Alsace, he showed his physical qualities at a very young age. His career really started when he was incorporated in 1926. He played his first international meeting in 1927, a year after Christmas. But, if the following year, Christmas qualifies for the Olympic Games, Winter, him, remains on the platform of the train which leaves for Amsterdam. However, there is one point on which they are not alike: training. The two athletes do not prepare in the same way for the 1932 Games, which will take place in distant Los Angeles in early August. “The two men, currently, are not far from their best form and if Winter does not train very little – this is his method – Jules Noël, on the other hand, spends several hours every day perfecting his tuning. . Both will pass very fluently this season the 48-meter mark and their “happy jets” will likely exceed 49 meters. This is a very good performance. And, with jets of 49 meters, Winter and Noël can claim, if not to a victory at least to an excellent representation. ” optimizes Paris-Soir of May 15, 1932. Who notes that «the world record, owned by the American, Jesup, stands at 51.75 meters. ” Other notable differences between the two discobolus: style and morphology. “Concentrated, without apparent feverishness, Winter dominated his subject, unlike Jules Noël, more emotional and exuberant”, writes the site cdm.athlé.com. One is tall and lean, the other small and stocky. “Physically, the contrast was also striking, because, facing the 1.90 m and 90 kg of Christmas, Paul Winter measured” only “1.75 for 92 kg.”
On June 5, 1932, not many people flocked to the Colombes stadium for one of the last meetings before the Olympic Games. Fortunately, there is Winter and Christmas, rejoices the morning of the next day. “From a pure sport point of view, there were fortunately some pleasant compensations and among these pleasant things, we must place in the very first rank the discus throw at 49.44 m made by Jules Noël, while his friend Paul Winter does not managed a throw of 45.13 meters. Here then, Jules Noël took back from Paul Winter the French record for the specialty, a record that Winter had brought to 48.80 and as this Homeric duel between the two beautiful French athletes is far from over. “ The newspaper is already projecting in California: “One can believe that, in this specialty of the disc, we will one day arrive at the true Olympic performances. The day when, in the pedestrian part [les courses ndlr], we will manage to find such rivalries at home, and then we will be able to claim truly “international” success. “
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On July 30, 1932, at the opening of the Games, Noël was ahead of Winter: he was the flag bearer of the French delegation. But on August 3, Winter gets on the 3e walk of the podium of the disc competition at the foot of which we find Christmas. Winter’s medal is eclipsed by French victories in cycling (the 2000m tandem) and wrestling (lightweight). “In the stadium, it is when the disc is launched that we must look for a reason for satisfaction. Paul Winter sent the machine to 47.85 and earned us, in the final, a place of honor, that of third in front of our second representative Noël (47.74) ”, writes the friend of the people August 5. Would both men’s arms have shaken from the stake, the newspaper suggests: “The atmosphere of the Olympic stadium and the importance of such competitions has never been favorable to our athletes, easily, too easily, impressionable.” Winter remains to this day the only French Olympic medalist on record.
A month after his Olympic medal, Winter drives home the point, as the story goes.a Tribune de l’Aube September 12. “Paul Winter, who took part in the international meeting in Colmar, made a splendid throw of 50.71, which is a new record for France; the previous one was also held by him. With this new success, Winter, who achieved 49.38m the same day, asserts himself by far as the best European pitcher, if not the best pitcher in the world, considering his splendid consistency. “ However, the newspaper digs into Winter’s pride a little by recalling that“Anderson (EU) was the Olympic winner with 49.48m. Winter could have, with any luck, removed this ordeal. ” Winter’s record will hold until… 1958.
In 1934, Noël returned to civilian life and went into exile in Bern, Switzerland, to take charge of the… fencing school. But in sport, he remains French. It is he who, in 1936, again, is the standard bearer of the French delegation to the Olympic Games in Berlin in which Winter also participates. Without success. Therefore, the future of the two discobolus is behind them. The Little Parisian of November 9, 1937 gives news of Winter, this guy “To the right head”. “A little gruff, no doubt, not talkative, for a penny, sometimes grumpy. But a good guy with good blue eyes that shine amazingly. Paul Winter, a hundred percent Alsatian and instructor of the Joinville school for many years, is seriously worried. His season has not been good. The next one might not be either. It is because the champion is advancing in age. He will be thirty-one years old next February. It is true that Jules Noël, his lifelong rival, will have thirty-four by this date. “ The newspaper says that we can meet Winter every Sunday morning at the Pershing stadium (in Vincennes) where he teaches whoever wants the secrets of the discus, weight and javelin throws.
Jules Noël, he devotes himself to fencing, as reported by the Dispatch of August 4, 1938.
In 1939, Jules Noël was mobilized. He was assigned to Joinville but he wanted to serve in a fighting unit. Seriously injured in 1940 in Cambrai, he died in the ambulance which brought him back to the rear under the bombardments. “Among the pre-war athletes, Jules Noël, who died on the field of honor, was one of the rare French who had reached the international class, pays him homage the cry of the people of Paris of December 10, 1940. He was also one of the most loyal, one of the most correct and one of the nicest. Nature had given him a strong stature, a power that allowed him to throw the discus and the weight in the best conditions. His matches with his comrade Winter, who has since become one of the most active and valuable physical educators of the French Athletics Federation, are still remembered. ”
His rival survives the conflict. “Despite the war, Paul Winter nonetheless continued to satisfy his passion, always throwing over 40 m, tells cdm.athlé.com. Thus, at the Liberation, we find him finalist of the French championships in 1945 and 1946, ending his career in 1949 at age 43, under the colors of the French CA, with a throw of 41.15 m. “ Paul Winter died on February 22, 1992, at the age of 86, in a retirement home in Poitiers.