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Olympia in review

Anecdotes from the previous Games

SALT LAKE CITY....................................February 8-24, 2002






The first Olympic Committee meets in 1896: Baron de Coubertin is the second from left.




Olympic Oath

"We swear to be honorable fighters at the Olympic Games and to observe the rules.

We take part: in knightly spirit, to honor our countries and for the glory of the sport."






Athens 1896: The first Olympics of the modern era. The start of the final 100-meter run. The winner was the American Burke (second from left). His invention was the deep start, to be used by others in the future.

  • The man most responsible for the revival of the modern Olympic Games was a French nobleman, Pierre de Fredi, known as Baron de Coubertin.
  • All 295 athletes were male.
  • The first winner of the modern Olympic Games was an American, Thomas Burke. He won the 100-meter dash in 12.0 seconds.
  • 10-year old Dimitrios Loundras of Greece finished third in the parallel-bars competition, becoming the youngest athlete to finish in top three.
  • Carl Schuhmann of Germany was one of the most versatile athletes. He won the super heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestling and the long horse vault. He also competed in long jump, triple jump and shot put.


1900 PARIS


Paris 1900. The competitions took place at the Racing Club de France in the woods of Boulogne. The 500-meter track was covered with grass, trees stood in the way for the viewers.

  • Only 11 out of 1,077 competitors were women.
  • Tennis player Charlotte Cooper of Great Britain was the first woman Olympic champion.
  • The American Alvin Kraenzlein is the only athlete to win four gold medals in individual track and field events at a single Olympic Games: in 60-meter dash, 110 and 200-meter hurdles, and the long jump.
  • Count Hermann de Pourtales of Switzerland was the first member of royalty to become an Olympic champion. He was a member of the victorious crew in the one-to-two yachting class.



  • American archer Robert Williams won a gold medal in the Double York Round, at the age of 63 years old.
  • Canadian George Lyon won the golf competiotion. After the awards dinner, Lyon walked on his hands to accepth his trophy.




Athens 1906. A special Olympic Games took place ten years after the first Olympic Games.The mangificent Olympic Stadium in Athens, a donation of the Greek philantropist Averof.



  • William Dodd won the men's archery competition, and his sister Charlotte Dodd won the silver medal in the women's archery competition.




Stockholm 1912. The entry of the Swedish gymnasts into the stadium of Stockholm, build from granite and brick. Enchanted, the Royal Family watches the event.

  • The American Jim Thorpe won the gold medals in both the decathlon and pentathlon.
  • Patrick McDonald, a 350-pound New York City policeman, won gold medal in the shot put.


1916 not held due to World War I



  • Gillis Grafström of Sweden was the only man to win three consecutive Olympic figure skating gold medals: in 1920, 1924 and 1928.
  • Italian Nedo Nade won five gold medals in fencing events. His brother Aldo Nade also won three gold medals in fencing.


1924 PARIS (1. Winter games: Chamonix)


Paris 1924. Geo Andre, surrounded by flag bearers, swears the Olympic Oath.

  • Johnny Weissmüller, one of the greatest athletes, set 67 world records between 1921 and 1929. At these Olympics, he won three gold medals. Later, MGM signed him up to star in Tarzan the Ape Man in 1932.
  • Paavo Nurmi of Finland won the gold medal in the 1,500 meter race, and less than ah hour later, he won the 5,000-meter race.
  • Sonja Henie was 11 years old when she finished last in women's figure skating at these Olympics. Henie made history by winning the gold medals at the next three Winter Olympics.


1928 AMSTERDAM (2. Winter Games: St. Moritz)

  • Johnny Weissmüller wins two more gold medals.
  • The Crown Prince Olav of Norway won gold medal as a member of the six-meter yacht event. In 1957 he became King of Norway and reigned for 34 years.


1932 LOS ANGELES (3. Winter Games: Lake Placid)


Los Angeles 1932. The Olympic Village of Los Angeles has become an example for the future. For the first time, the men lived here separated from the bustle of the exciting events.

  • The 14-year old Japanese swimmer Kusuo Kitamura wins the gold medal in the 1,5000-meter freestyle.


1936 BERLIN (4. Winter Games: Garmisch-Partenkirchen)


Berlin 1936: The Greek Louis Spyridon, the victor of the Marathon race at the First Olympics at Athens in 1896, is the last torch bearer in the torch relay from the ancient temple at Olympia to Berlin. He lights the Olympic vessel at the Olympia Stadion.

  • The American Glenn Morris wins the decathlon. A brief film career follows.
  • Thirteen-year old American Marjorie Gerstring wins the gold medal in springboard diving. She is the youngest athlete in summer Olympics to win a gold medal in an individual event.
  • Germany wins the three-day team equesterian competition thanks to the courage of Konrad von Wangenheim. He broke his collarbone in a fall during the endurance run. Despite tremendous pain, the remounted and finished the course. The following day, his horse reared and fell back on him. Once again, he ignored the pain and competed the run.
  • The American Cornelius Johnson wins gold medal in the high jump, with the height of 6 feet, eight inches.


1940 not held due to World War II

1944 not held due to World War II


1948 LONDON (winter: St. Moritz)

  • Seventeen-year old American Bob Mathias wins the decathlon.
  • Joe DiPietro, an American who stood only 4 feet 8 inches, wins the gold medal in the bantam-weight weightlifting competition.


1952 HELSINKI (winter: Oslo)

  • Bob Mathias wins again gold medal in the decathlon.
  • No runner had ever won the 5,000-meter, 10,000-meter, and the marathon until Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia won all three at these Olympics.
  • The American Parry O'Brien wins the gold medal in the shot put.


1956 MELBOURNE (winter: Cortina)

  • Parry O'Brien wins again the gold medal in the shot put.
  • The American Milt Campbell wins the gold medal in the decathlon.
  • Al Oerter won the discuss competition at thes Olympics. The American repeats his feat in 1960, 1964 and 1968.


1960 ROME (winter: Squaw Valley)

  • The Crown Prince Constantin of Greece wins a gold medal as a member of the dragon class sailing crew. To celebrate the victory, the future king was pushed into the water by his mother, Queen Frederika.
  • The light heavyweight Cassius Clay easily wins the gold medal. Clay, whose hand speed dazzled the spectators, was as quick with a quip. His witty banter earned him the nickname "The Louisville Lip". Clay was so proud of his gold medal that he never took it off.


1964 TOKYO (winter: Innsbruck)

  • Despite tearing a cartilage in his ribs a week before the Games, the American Al Oerter wins again the gold medal in the discus competition by throwing it 200 feet and one inch.
  • Born deaf, Hungarian fencer Ildiko Ujlaki-Rejtö wins a gold medal in the individual foil.


1968 MEXICO CITY (winter: Grenoble)

  • The deaf Hungarian fencer Ildiko Ujlaki-Rejtö again wins a gold medal in the individual foil.
  • Louis Noverraz won a silver medal as a crew member for Switzerland in the 5.5-meter sailing competition. He was 66 years old.


1972 MUNICH (winter: Sapporo)

  • 16-year old Ulrike Meyfarth of West Germany wins the women's high jump. Thus she becomes the youngest athlete ever to win the gold medal in an individual track and field event. She also won the gold medal for the high jump in 1984.
  • Francisco Fernandez-Ochoa wins Spain's first-ever gold medal at a Winter Olympics when he finished first in the slalom at the Sapporo Games.



  • 14-year old Nadia Comaneci scored seven perfect tens. The 85-pound Romanian won gold medals in the uneven bars, balance beam, and all-around events.


1980 MOSCOW (winter: Lake Placid)

  • United States boycott these Olympic Games in protest of the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union.
  • Two days before he was to compete in the small-bore rifle competition, Karoly Varga of Hungary broke his shooting hand. Despite the injury, the won the gold medal.


1984 LOS ANGELES (winter: Sarajevo)

  • Soviet Union boycotts these Olympic Games in protest against American boycott in 1980.
  • Ulrike Meyfarth of West Germany wins again the gold medal in women's high jump.
  • Mary Lou Retton was a 90-pound American dynamo who electrified the gymnastic world with her performance. She scored perfect tens in the floor exercise and vault to win the gold medal in the women's all-around.
  • At 6 feet 7 inches, German Michael Gross was one of the tallest swimmers ever to compete in the Olympics. With an armspan of more than seven feet, Gross was nicknamed "The Albatros". He won two gold medals, in the 100-meter butterfly and 200-meter freestyle.
  • Carl Lewis, winner of nine gold medals, was America's greatest athlete. In the long jump, Lewis soared 28 feet on his first attempt.


1988 SEOUL (winter: Calgary)

  • The American Florence Griffith-Joyner won three gold medals. The winner of the 100- and 200-meter dashes, she was almost as famous for her lacy outfits. She also painted each of her long fingernails a different color.
  • Katarina Witt of Germany was always the center of attention at any skating event in which she competed. A dazzling combination of talent and beauty, she won gold medals in 1984 and 1988.
  • Carl Lewis wins gold in long jump for the second time.


1992 BARCELONA (winter: Albertsville)

  • The gymnast Vitaly Scherbo of Belarus won a record six gold medals. Four of them came in a single day when Scherbo won gold medals on four different apparati on August 2.
  • Carl Lewis wins gold in long jump for the third time.



  • Carl Lewis wins gold in long jump for the unprecedented fourth time.



  • Super heavyweight Greco-Roman wrestler Aleksandr Karelin was considered unbeatable. The Russian had won the previous three gold medals and never lost a match in 13 years of international competition. By contrast, American Rulon Gardner had never medaled at a world competition. Gardner beat Karelin 1-0 in the biggest upset of these Olympics.


Winter Games 2002 SALT LAKE CITY




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Copyright 2001 West-Art

PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin for Art, Politics and Science,

Nr. 81, Winter 2001