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Frederick Kelly

Biographical information

Medals OG
Gold 1
Silver 0
Bronze 0
Total 1
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games
Full nameFrederick Septimus•Kelly
Used nameFrederick•Kelly
Born29 May 1881 in Sydney, New South Wales (AUS)
Died13 November 1916 in Beaucourt-sur-l'Ancre, Somme (FRA)
Measurements77 kg
AffiliationsLeander Club, Henley-on-Thames (GBR)
NOC(s) Great Britain


Frederick Kelly enjoyed a remarkable rowing career and was equally competent as a sculler or in an eight. He learnt his rowing skills at Eton, and in 1899 stroked the eight to victory in the Ladies Challenge Cup at Henley. He won the Diamond Sculls in 1902, 1903 and 1905, the Wingfield Sculls in 1903, when he was also the in the Oxford eight, was a member of the Leander crew that won the Grand in 1903, 1904, and 1905, the Steward’s Challenge Cup in 1906, and was the in the Leander eight that took the 1908 Olympic title.

In 1914, Kelly, who was educated at Sydney Grammar School, Eton (as were his five brothers), and Balliol College, Oxford, joined the Royal Naval Division and served in HMS Hood together with his friend, the poet, Rupert Brooke. Kelly had been injured twice during the Gallipoli campaign but survived and was promoted to lieutenant commander. He was to win a DSC for gallantry during the 1916 evacuation. Later that year, when with his unit in France, was killed instantly when rushing a German machine gun post.

Had he survived, Kelly would certainly have achieved fame as a musician. He had shown considerable talent for the piano as a child, and could memorise Mozart sonatas at the age of five, when he also started composing his own music, but he did not take up music seriously until he left Balliol in 1903. He studied for five years at Dr. Hoch’s Conservatory at Frankfurt am Main, made his concert début in his native Sydney in 1911 and, the following year, gave a series of concerts in London. However, contemporary critics were of the opinion that Kelly’s true forté was as a composer and his best remembered work in his 1915 composition dedicated to his late friend and entitled “Elegy for String Orchestra in Memoriam to Rupert Brooke.”


Games Discipline (Sport) Event Status Team Pos Details
1908 Summer Olympics Rowing Coxed Eights, Men Olympic Leander Club 1 Gold Representing Great Britain    

Special Notes