Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Olympic (1896-2004) Part 2 of 3

1936 Berlin, Germany (XI Olympiad)

Opening date: 01 August 1936
Closing date: 16 August 1936
Country of the host city: Germany (GER)
Candidate cities: Barcelona (ESP)

49 NOCs (Nations)
3,963 athletes (331 women, 3,632 men)
129 events

Official opening of the Games by: Chancellor Adolf Hitler
Lighting the Olympic Flame by: Fritz Schilgen (athletics)
Olympic Oath by: Rudolf Ismayr (weightlifting)
Official Oath by: The first officials' oath was sworn at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

The 1936 Olympics, held in Berlin, are best remembered for Adolf Hitler’s failed attempt to use them to prove his theories of Aryan racial superiority. As it turned out, the most popular hero of the Games, was the African-American sprinter and long jumper Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals. During the long jump competition, Owens’ German rival, Luz Long, publicly befriended him in front of the Nazis. 1936 saw the introduction of the torch relay, in which a lighted torch is carried from Olympia to the site of the current Games.

The 1936 Olympics were also the first to be broadcast on a form of television. Twenty-five large screens were set up throughout Berlin, allowing the local people to see the Games for free. Basketball, canoeing and team handball made their first appearances, while polo was included in the Olympic programme for the last time. Thirteen-year-old Marjorie Gestring of the United States won the gold medal in springboard diving. She remains the youngest female gold medalist in the history of the Summer Olympics. Inge Sorensen of Denmark earned a bronze medal in the 200m breaststroke at the age of 12, making her the youngest medalist ever in an individual event. Hungarian water polo player Olivier Halassy won his third medal despite the fact that one of his legs had been amputated below the knee following a streetcar accident. Rower Jack Beresford of Great Britain won a gold medal in the double sculls event, marking the fifth Olympics at which he earned a medal. Kristjan Palusalu of Estonia won the heavyweight division in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling.

1940 (XII Olympiad) been cancelled (World War II)

1944 (XIII Olympiad) been cancelled (World War II)

1948 London, Great Britain (XIV Olympiad)

Opening date: 29 July 1948
Closing date: 14 August 1948
Country of the host city: Great Britain (GBR)
Candidate cities: Baltimore (USA), Lausanne (SUI), Los Angeles (USA), Minneapolis (USA) and Philadelphie (USA).

59 NOCs (Nations)
4,104 athletes (390 women, 3,714 men)
136 events

Official opening of the Games by: His Majesty King George VI
Lighting the Olympic Flame by: John Mark (athletics)
Olympic Oath by: Donald Finlay (athletics)
Official Oath by: The first officials' oath was sworn at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

The 1948 London Games were the first to be shown on home television, although very few people in Great Britain actually owned sets. A women’s canoeing event was held for the first time - and won by Karen Hoff of Denmark. 17-year-old American Bob Mathias won the decathlon only four months after taking up the sport. He is the youngest athlete in Olympic history to win a men’s athletics event.

Two athletes who were Olympic champions in 1936 managed to defend their titles twelve years later. They were Ilona Elek of Hungary in women’s foil fencing and Jan Brzak of Czechoslovakia in the canoeing Canadian pairs 1,000m. Fanny Blankers-Koen of the Netherlands was the world record holder in six events, but, according to the rules of the day, was only allowed to enter four. She won all four: the 100m dash, the 80m hurdles, the 200m and the 4x100m relay. Concert pianist Micheline Ostermeyer of France won both the shot put and the discus throw. Karoly Takacs was a member of the Hungarian world champion pistol shooting team in 1938 when a grenade shattered his right hand - his pistol hand. Takacs taught himself to shoot with his left hand and, ten years later, he won an Olympic gold medal in the rapid-fire pistol event.

1952 Helsinki, Finland (XV Olympiad)

Opening date: 19 July 1952
Closing date: 03 August 1952
Country of the host city: Finland (FIN)
Candidate cities: Los Angeles (USA), Amsterdam (NED), Minneapolis (USA), Detroit (USA), Chicago (USA) and Philadelphie (USA)

69 NOCs (Nations)
4,955 athletes (519 women, 4,436 men)
149 events

Official opening of the Games by: President Juho Paasikivi
Lighting the Olympic Flame by: Paavo Nurmi et Hannes Kolehmainen (athletics)
Olympic Oath by: Heikki Savolainen (gymnastics)
Official Oath by: The first officials' oath was sworn at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

The 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki started in spectacular fashion with Pavvo Nurmi, then aged 55, entering the stadium with the Olympic flame and lighting the cauldron on the ground. Then, young football players carried the torch up to the top of the stadium tower, where another Olympic cauldron was lit by 62-year-old Hannes Klehmainen.

It seemed appropriate that the most impressive achievements in Helsinki should be those of another long-distance runner, Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia, who became the only person in Olympic history to win the 5,000, 10,000 and marathon at the same Olympics.

The Soviet Union entered the Olympics for the first time. Although their athletes were housed in a separate "village", warnings that Cold War rivalries would lead to clashes proved unfounded. Particularly impressive were the Soviet women gymnasts who won the team competition easily, beginning a streak that would continue for forty years until the Soviet Union broke up into separate republics. One of the first women allowed to compete against men in the equestrian dressage was Lis Hartel of Denmark. Despite being paralyzed below the knees after an attack of polio, Hartel, who had to be helped on and off her horse, won a silver medal. Lars Hall, a carpenter from Sweden, became the first nonmilitary winner of the modern pentathlon. Back in 1924, Bill Havens had been chosen to represent the United States in coxed eights rowing, but declined in order to stay home with his wife, who was expecting their first child. Twenty-eight years later, that child, Frank Havens, won a gold medal in the Canadian singles 10,000m canoeing event.

1956 Melbourne / Stockholm (XVI Olympiad)

Opening date: 22 November 1956
Closing date: 08 December 1956
Country of the host city: Australia (AUS)
Candidate cities: Buenos Aires (ARG), Los Angeles (USA), Detroit (USA), Mexico (MEX), Chicago (USA), Minneapolis (USA), Philadelphie (USA) and San Francisco (USA)

72 NOCs (Nations)
3,314 athletes (376 women, 2 938 men)
145 events

Official opening of the Games by: HRH the Duke of Edinburgh
Lighting the Olympic Flame by: Ron Clarke (athletics)
Olympic Oath by: John Landy (athletics)
Official Oath by: The first officials' oath was sworn at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

Melbourne won the right to host the 1956 Olympics by one vote over Buenos Aires. Australian quarantine laws were too severe to allow the entry of foreign horses, so the equestrian events were held separately in Stockholm in June. The Melbourne Games were the first to be held in the southern hemisphere.

Laszlo Papp of Hungary became the first boxer to win three gold medals. American Pat McCormick won both diving events, just as she had in 1952. Two athletes dominated the gymnastics competition. On the men’s side, Ukrainian Viktor Chukarin earned five medals, including three gold, to bring his career total to eleven medals, seven of them gold. Agnes Keleti of Hungary brought her career total to ten medals by winning four gold medals and two silver. The U.S. basketball team, led by Bill Russell and K.C. Jones, put on the most dominant performance in Olympic history, scoring more than twice as much as their opponents and winning each of their games by at least 30 points. U.S. weightlifter Paul Anderson weighed 137.9kg. In weightlifting, ties are broken by awarding the higher place to the athlete with the lower body weight. Incredibly, this worked to Anderson’s advantage when he tied for first with Humberto Selvetti of Argentina. Selvetti weighed 143.5kg. Prior to 1956, the athletes in the Closing Ceremony marched by nation, as they did in the Opening Ceremony. In Melbourne, following a suggestion by a young Australian named John Ian Wing, the athletes entered the stadium together during the Closing Ceremony, as a symbol of global unity.

1960 Rome, Italy (XVII Olympiad)

Opening date: 25 August 1960
Closing date: 11 September 1960
Country of the host city: Italy (ITA)
Candidate cities: Lausanne (SUI), Detroit (USA), Budapest (HUN), Brussels (BEL), Mexico City (MEX) and Tokyo (JPN).

83 NOCs (Nations)
5,338 athletes (611 women, 4,727 men)
150 events

Official opening of the Games by: President Giovanni Gronchi
Lighting the Olympic Flame by: Giancarlo Peris (athletics)
Olympic Oath by: Adolfo Consolini (athletics)
Official Oath by: The first officials' oath was sworn at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

Fifty-four years after Italy had to give up hosting the Olympics, Rome finally got its chance. They made the most of their dramatic history, holding the wrestling competition in the Basilica of Maxentius. Among the other ancient sites that were used were the Caracalla Baths (gymnastics) and the Arch of Constantine (finish of the marathon). Paul Elvstrom of Denmark won the gold medal in the single-handed dinghy class yachting - for the fourth consecutive time. Hungarian fencer Aladar Gerevich earned his sixth consecutive gold medal in the team sabre event. In canoeing, Sweden’s Gert Fredriksson won his sixth gold medal. Yugoslavia, which qualified for the final by winning a coin toss, won the football tournament after losing in the final three times in a row. Sante Gaiardoni of Italy became the only cyclist in Olympic history to win both the time trial and the match sprint events. By winning the silver medal in light-welterweight boxing, Clement "Ike" Quartey of Ghana became the first black African Olympic medalist.

Five days later in the marathon, Abebe Bikila, running barefoot, outlasted Rhadi Ben Abdesselem of Morocco to become the first black African Olympic champion. Rafer Johnson and C.K. Yang were decathlon training partners at UCLA, but in Rome Johnson represented the United States and Yang represented Chinese Taipei. In a dramatic finish, they took first and second places and then, exhausted, fell against each other for support. Suffering from concussion and a broken collarbone after a fall in the endurance test of the three-day equestrian event, Bill Roycroft left his hospital bed to compete in the jumping test and ensure the gold medal for Australia.

1964 - Tokyo, Japan (XVIII Olympiad)

Opening date: 10 October 1964
Closing date: 24 October 1964
Country of the host city: Japan (JPN)
Candidate cities: Detroit (USA), Vienna (AUT) and Brussels (BEL)

93 NOCs (Nations)
5,151 athletes (678 women, 4,473 men)
163 events

Official opening of the Games by: The Emperor Hirohito
Lighting the Olympic Flame by: Yoshinori Saka, a student born on 6 August 1945, the day the atomic bomb exploded in Hiroshima
Olympic Oath by: Takashi Ono (gymnastics)
Official Oath by: The first officials' oath was sworn at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

The 1964 Tokyo Games were the first to be held in Asia. The Japanese expressed their successful reconstruction after World War II by choosing as the final torchbearer Yoshinori Sakai, who was born in Hiroshima the day that that city was destroyed by an atomic bomb. Judo and volleyball were introduced to the Olympic programme. American swimmer Don Schollander won four gold medals. Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia became the first repeat winner of the marathon - less than six weeks after having his appendix removed. Russian rower Vyacheslav Ivanov won the single sculls for the third time, and Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser won the 100m freestyle for the third time.

Al Oerter of the United States did the same in the discus throw despite a cervical disc injury that forced him to wear a neck harness and torn rib cartilage incurred a week before the competition. Hungarian water polo player Dezso Gyarmati won his fifth medal in a row. Another Hungarian, Greco-Roman wrestler Imre Polyak, finally won a gold medal after finishing second in the same division at the previous three Olympics. By winning two medals of each kind, Larysa Latynina of the Ukraine brought her career medal total to an incredible 18. She is also one of only four athletes in any sport to win nine gold medals.

1968 - Mexico (XIX Olympiad)

Opening date: 12 October 1968
Closing date: 27 October 1968
Country of the host city: Mexico (MEX)
Candidate cities: Detroit (USA), Lyon (FRA) and Buenos Aires (ARG)

112 NOCs (Nations)
5,516 athletes (781 women, 4,735 men)
172 events

Official opening of the Games by: President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz
Lighting the Olympic Flame by: Norma Enriqueta Basilio de Sotelo (athletics)
Olympic Oath by: Pablo Lugo Garrido (athletics)
Official Oath by: The first officials' oath was sworn at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich.

The choice of Mexico City to host the 1968 Olympics was a controversial one because of the city's high altitude, 2,300m, which meant that the air contained 30% less oxygen than at sea level. Sure enough, the rarefied air proved disastrous to many athletes competing in endurance events. On the other hand, the high altitude led to world records in all of the men’s races that were 400m or shorter, including both relays, and in the 400m hurdles, in the long jump and triple jump as well. Bob Beamon’s spectacular long jump of 8.90m would last as a world record for 22 years. The Mexico City Olympics, the first Summer Games to include sex testing for women, were blessed with many outstanding heroines. Mexican hurdler Enriqueta Basilio became the first woman to light the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony. Eulalia Rolinska of Poland, Gladys de Seminario of Peru and Nuria Ortiz of Mexico were the first women to compete in shooting. Wyomia Tyus of the United States became the first repeat winner of the 100m dash. The most popular female athlete of the 1968 Games was Vera Caslavska, the Czech gymnast.

After the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia two months before the Olympics, Caslavska went into hiding for three weeks. She emerged to win four gold medals and two silvers. On the male side, Al Oerter of the United States won the discus throw for the fourth time. The 1968 Games also saw the first drug disqualification, as a Swedish entrant in the modern pentathlon, Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall, tested positive… for excessive alcohol.

1972 - Munich, Germany (XX Olympiad)

Opening date: 26 August 1972
Closing date: 11 September 1972
Country of the host city: Federal Republic of Germany (1950-1990, "GER" since) (FRG)
Candidate cities: Detroit (USA), Madrid (ESP) and Montreal (CAN)

121 NOCs (Nations)
7,134 athletes (1,059 women, 6,075 men)
195 events

Official opening of the Games by: President Gustave Heinemann
Lighting the Olympic Flame by: Gnter Zahn (athletics, junior 1,500m champion)
Olympic Oath by: Heidi Schller (athletics)
Official Oath by: Heinz Pollay (equestrian sports)

The 1972 Munich Games were the largest yet, setting records in all categories, with 195 events and 7,173 athletes from 121 nations. They were supposed to celebrate peace and, for the first ten days, all did indeed go well. But in the early morning of 5 September, eight Palestinian terrorists broke into the Olympic Village, killed two members of the Israeli team and took nine more hostage. In an ensuing battle, all nine Israeli hostages were killed, as were five of the terrorists and one policeman. The Olympics were suspended and a memorial service was held in the main stadium. In defiance of the terrorists, the International Olympic Committee ordered the competitions to resume after a pause of 34 hours. All other details about the Munich Games paled in significance, but it did have its highlights.

Archery was reintroduced to the Olympic programme after a 52-year absence and handball after a 36-year absence. Whitewater (or slalom) canoeing was included for the first time. The 1972 Games were also the first to have a named mascot: Waldi the dachshund. U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz won an incredible seven gold medals to go with the two he had earned in 1968. Lasse Viren of Finland fell midway through the 10,000m final, but rose and set a world record to win the first of his four career gold medals. Freestyle wrestler Ivan Yarygin of Russia pinned all seven of his opponents en route to his first Olympic championship in the heavyweight division. West German, Liselott Linsenhoff, competing in the dressage event, became the first female equestrian to win a gold medal in an individual event.

The media star of the Munich Games was the tiny Soviet gymnast, Olga Korbut, whose dramatic cycle of success in the team competition, failure in the individual competition and renewed success in the apparatus finals captured the attention of fans worldwide.

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