Bill Bailey

Biographical information

RolesCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameWilliam James "Bill"•Bailey
Used nameBill•Bailey
Born6 April 1888 in London, Greater London, England (GBR)
Died21 February 1971 in Chiswick, Greater London, England (GBR)
AffiliationsPolytechnic C.C., Westminster (GBR)
NOC Great Britain


Bill Bailey’s cycling career stretched more than 20 years as he continued racing as a professional beyond the age of 40. An outstanding sprinter, he was as well known across the world as he was in Britain. His first major victory was as an 18-year-old when he won the Anfield BC (Liverpool) 100-mile time trial at Shropshire in 1906. In 1909 Bailey won the first of three National sprint titles, and that same year won his first World title.

Bailey won the sprint title at the World Amateur Championship four times in 1909-11 and 1913 (he did not compete in the USA in 1912). In addition, he won Europe’s leading sprint race, the Grand Prix de Paris in four successive years 1910-13. Bailey also won four British Empire Championships and six national sprint titles as well as setting several British and world short distance world records. His half-mile record of 54.4 seconds off a flying start, set in 1908, stood for over 25 years. Bailey turned professional in March 1914 but the War years intervened. However, in 1920, he won a bronze medal in the sprint at the World Championships in Belgium, and at the age of 40, he established a British sanding start half-mile record of 58 seconds, just two-fifths of a second slower than when he set he amateur record 20 years earlier.

Bailey raced in the USA a lot, and won so often that the American fans would affectionately sing “Won’t you go home Bill Bailey” to him. After his racing days, Bailey organised race meetings at the famous banked circuit at Brooklands, and became coach to the Great Britain team at the 1928 Olympics. Bailey was also one of the founders of Bicycle magazine, launched in 1936.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1908 Summer Olympics Cycling Track (Cycling) GBR Bill Bailey
Sprint, Men (Olympic) 3 h2 r2/3
Sprint, Men (Olympic) 3 h7 r1/3
5,000 metres, Men (Olympic) AC h1 r1/2