The 20 km, track race at the 1906 Olympics was a tandem-paced event and Billy Pett, who readily acknowledged his debt to the faultless pace-making of John Matthews and Arthur Rushen, won the gold medal with exactly half a minute to spare over the Frenchman, Maurice Bardonneau. Pett, who won three NCU titles at 50 miles, also competed in the Olympic road race in Athens and, in view of his NCU successes, was the favorite for the 84 km. event but he suffered a bad fall and failed to finish. In addition to his Olympic gold medal and his NCU victories, Pett finished second to Leon Meredith in the 100 km. at the 1904 World Championships but his greatest performance came at Herne Hill in September 1908 when he set a British tandem-pace record for one hour of 30 miles, 1,170 yards. This record withstood every attack for 20 years and it was not until 1928 that the great Frank Southall covered a greater distance inside the space of 60 minutes. Billy Pett did not take up cycling until the age of 20 and in his early days he was associated with Southern CC and Putney AC before joining the Norwood Paragon club. Following his late start in the sport, Pett was aged 32 when he won his Olympic gold medal and only 38-year-old Maurice Peeters of Holland, the 1920 sprint champion, has won an Olympic cycling gold medal at a greater age. Pett achieved all these successes despite the inhibitions imposed on him by his work. He was employed in the wine cellars of Harrods, a job that kept him on his feet from 8 AM to 7 PM and he was never able to get time off work to compete in the mid-week evening meetings. After he retired from competition, Pett became a leading official and was one of the timekeepers at the 1948 Olympic Games.