BURY-BORN swimmer Robert Crawshaw was not even supposed to travel to Paris for the 1900 Olympics but he ended up becoming the only man from the borough to date to win an Olympic gold medal.

Back then the games were very different from what we know today. No opening or closing ceremonies were held. Competitions began on May 14 and ended as late as October 28 with a total of 997 competitors taking part in 19 different sports.

Some events were contested for the only time in the history of the Games, including automobile and motorcycle racing, ballooning, cricket, croquet, Basque pelota, and 200m swimming obstacle race and underwater swimming. This was also the only Olympic Games in history to use live animals in the form of pigeons as targets during the shooting event.

The water polo competition was held on the Seine with eight teams from four countries, all European, entered into the event, although only seven ended up playing.

The tournament was to be played by the less violent and more restrictive "English rules", which, along with the cost of travelling to Paris, deterred any American teams from participating.

Incredibly, the British team was made up almost entirely of Mancunians from the Osborne Swimming Club based at the Osborne Street Baths in Collyhurst.

At the time the Osborne Club was the most successful water polo team in England winning the English Championship water polo title throughout the 1890s.

Crawshaw meanwhile was a member of Mayfield Baths based behind Manchester Piccadilly train station at a site which is currently being excavated by archaeologists from the University of Salford.

Born in Bury in 1869, Crawshaw was a veteran of Manchester's water polo scene but still acknowledged as an excellent player and so the decision was made to draft him into the Osborne team after one of the members, William Lister, unfortunately died two weeks before the Olympics.

It proved a good decision as the Osborne team swept all before them in Paris, wining all their games, scoring 29 and conceding only three.

The final on August 12 1900 saw Osborne thrash a Belgium side 7-2 with some observers stating that the Mancunians took their foot off the gas a little in order not to embarrass their opponents.

Incredibly, Crawshaw also had time to compete in two swimming events, the 200m freestyle and the 200m backstroke, but he never made it to the final.

Sadly, little is known about his later life except that he died in Burnley on September 14 1952, aged 83.