John Jefferson

Biographical information

Full nameJohn William•Jefferson
Used nameJohn•Jefferson
Born30 June 1884 in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England (GBR)
Died22 November 1941 in Kangar (MAS)
AffiliationsBirmingham Dale End YMCA, Birmingham (GBR)
NOC Great Britain


John Jefferson was a well-known Birmingham swimmer and gymnast, and was renowned for his club-swinging demonstrations at the Birmingham Town Hall and Dale End YMCA. He was probably more successful, however, as a swimmer. He started his career with the Burton-on-Trent YMCA and enjoyed success in the Burton and Derby areas. His major breakthrough came in 1906 after joining the Birmingham YMCA, and he won their “four length” championship. A few weeks later Jefferson was runner-up in their all-round swimming championship, a position he also occupied in both 1907 and 1908.

Jefferson was secretary of the boy’s section of the Dale End YMCA, and was one of 12 members of the Birmingham & District Gymnastics Association selected for Great Britain at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, but he was a non-starter. Between 1914-17, Jefferson lived in the United States where he was a director of physical education at the Springfield YMCA in Massachusetts. In 1920 he went to Malaya (now Malaysia) as a physical training instructor at the YMCA before later becoming the country’s director of physical education. He was responsible for improving the physical improvement of many children and also introduced physical training for school teachers. Upon retirement he became Inspector of Schools in the Perlis State.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1912 Summer Olympics Artistic Gymnastics (Gymnastics) GBR John Jefferson
Team All-Around, Men (Olympic) Great Britain DNS