Sunday, June 17, 2012

Olympics: Brief history of the Modern Games 1924 Paris

Paris became the first city to host the Olympics for a second time. These Games were originally planned to take place in Amsterdam, however, they were moved to Paris at the urging of Baron de Coubertin. He was about to retire and wanted to see them in his homeland one last time. Forty four countries sent 3,092 athletes (136 women, 2,956 men) to the 1924 Paris Olympics. The athletes were accommodated in an Olympic Village for the first time. Despite the country's financial problems and a major flood in the spring before the Olympics, the 1924 games were very successful. In fact, 1924 is often considered the beginning of a truly modern Olympic era. International sports became big during the 1920s, mainly because of Wimbledon and the French Open in tennis, the British and French Opens in golf, and major cycling events in Europe. Public interest was at a premium and over 1,000 journalists attended the events. Germany was still banned, but the other four nations banned in 1920 were allowed back. Ecuador, Haiti, Ireland, Lithuania, the Philippines, Mexico and Uruguay attended the Olympic Games for the first time. Latvia and Poland attended the Summer Olympic Games for the first time . The cost of the Games was estimated to be 10,000,000 ₣rancs. With total receipts at 5,496,610 ₣rancs, the Olympics resulted in a hefty loss despite crowds that reached 60,000 people at a time. The Olympic marathon distance was standardized to 26 miles and 385 yards.

The surprise winner of the games was Harold Abrahams of Great Britain in the 100-meter dash.

Eric Liddell, "The Flying Scotsman", was a committed Christian and would not consider running on a Sunday, so could not run in his favoured event the 100m. The only alternative was to run in the 400m. As Liddell went to his starting blocks, an American slipped a piece of paper into Liddell's hand with a quotation from 1 Samuel 2:30, "Those who honour me I will honour." Liddell ran with that piece of paper in his hand. He not only won the race, but broke the existing world record with a time of 47.6 seconds. Eric ‘The Flying Scotsman, ‘ Liddel (UK) always ate roast beef before a race. The Scots champion also liked to dance about on his toes while training. He also believed in upper thigh massages to improve speed and how and no-one under the age of 20 should run further than a quarter of a mile at a time.

American William DeHart Hubbard became the first black athlete to win an individual gold medal; he triumphed in the long jump.

Tennis champion Richard (R) Norris Williams almost lost his legs as a survivor of the sinking of the Titanic. Exposed to the freezing water doctors seriously contemplated amputating them. After 1924 tennis was withdrawn as an Olympic sport and only reinstituted in 1988.

American Johnny Weissmuller won three gold medals for swimming and a bronze with the water polo team.

At the 1924 Paris Games, the Olympic motto, 'Citius, Altius, Fortius', (Swifter, Higher, Stronger) was introduced, as was the Closing Ceremony ritual of raising three flags: the flag of the International Olympic Committee, the flag of the host nation and the flag of the next host nation. The Olympic motto is the hendiatris or figure of speech : Citius, Altius, Fortius , which is Latin for "Swifter, Higher, Stronger". (The Latin words are comparative adverbs, not adjectives.) The motto was proposed by Pierre de Coubertin on the creation of the International Olympic Committee in 1894. De Coubertin borrowed it from his friend Henri Didon, a Dominican priest who, amongst other things, was an athletics enthusiast. The motto was introduced in 1924 at the Olympic Games in Paris.

In 1924, France also hosted a "Winter Sports Festival" at Chamonix that was sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee, over Coubertin's opposition. The festival retroactively became the first Winter Olympics.

Reviewed 19/02/2016

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