- 1908 brought the games to London. They were originally slated for Rome but Mt Vesuvius erupted in 1906 and the Italians decided that the money would be best spent elsewhere. The US team accused the British judges of partiality and from then on, a pool of international judges were used. There is a great story about marathoner Dorando Pietri of Italy. In the last lap of the marathon he was leading but collapsed four times. The book says "For the final few yards to the finish, the nearly unconscious Italian was supported by, among others, the stadium announcer and a second official, thought by some to Arthur Conan Doyle". He was quickly disqualified for using 'external support'. He was given a trophy by Queen Alexandra. It took them awhile to figure out that whole marathon thing, no?
- Stockholm hosted the games in 1912. The book says that athletes from all continents were represented but I can't quite figure out how Antarctica gets in there. For the first time, these games featured photo finish technology and electronic timers. The Swedes modified the shot-put, javelin and discus events so that contestants would throw with both their strong and weak arms. The results were then averaged. (They also did the events with just the strong arms.) I don't know if I would have wanted to be nearby as the javelin throwers were throwing with their 'weak' arms.
- There were no 1916 games, due to World War One. Antwerp hosted them in 1920. Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Turkey were not invited due to lingering bad feelings. The Olympic oath was started there, by a Belgian fencer named Victor Boin and is still used today. The Olympic flag made its debut. Apparently the track and field events had few participants as a number of athletes had been killed in the war. Hockey was played for the first time. There is a picture of a woman tennis player and it's comical how they played in full length dresses!
- 1924 brings the first winter Olympics, in Chamonix, France. At first it was a simple demonstration that such an event could work but (in a reversal of Athens 1906) later it was recognized as the first winter Olympics. There had been pressure for such games for years but the Scandinavian countries had protested, thinking it would take away from their own regional games. They dominated at Chamonix. Weather was warmer and drier than usual and it sounds like they struggled the whole time to get good enough conditions to play outside. There is a picture of a skier doing the ski jump, while bystanders are only about ten feet away! Things have, uh, changed a bit since then.
- The 1924 summer Olympics went back to Paris. These are the games depicted in 'Chariots of Fire' (available now on Netflix streaming). For the first time, an Olympic village was built. This was the last Olympics that featured tennis until it returned 60 years later in Seoul. There were concerns about the amateur status of the top tennis players. Germany was still banned from the games. The rowing contests were held in the Seine and various currents and eddies greatly effected the race participants.
Monday, June 04, 2012
First part here.