Born in London as the daughter of 1908 Olympic official William James, Dame Mary was a prodigious foil fencer, competing at the London 1948, Helsinki 1952, Melbourne 1956 and Rome 1960 Olympic Games, and winning individual gold medals at the 1950 British Empire Games and at the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games.
A subsequent pioneer for women in sport, Dame Mary served as an IOC member for 12 years from 1982 to 1994. During this time, she spent a decade on the IOC Medical Commission before ascending to IOC honorary member status in 1994, after which she was awarded an Olympic Order at the Centennial Olympic Congress in 1994 in Paris to recognise her “lifelong commitment to sport”.
She also held several positions within the British Olympic Association and the International Fencing Federation and was President of the British Sports Association for the Disabled from 1981 to 1991, receiving a Damehood from the Queen in the 1993 New Year Honours.
Alongside her sporting and administrative success, she also embraced a professional career in the medical field, which made her an ideal candidate for the Medical Commission, while in her 90s she remained a key ambassador for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Dame Mary passed away on Saturday November 15. (Nick Butler)
British Fencing would like to express their deepest sympathies to her family.
A full obituary can be found on page 31 of the January 2015 issue of The Sword magazine.
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