Saturday, June 16, 2012

Olympics: Brief history of the Modern Games: 1920 Antwerp

Because of World War I there was no game held in 1916. Twenty nine (29) countries were represented at Antwerp, Belgium in 1920. Germany, Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria and Turkey were all excluded and the Societ Union chose not to attend. The VII Olympiad saw the introduction of the Olympic flag and the recitation of the Olympic oath. The ancient Games had opened with the taking of the oaths at the first official ceremony. The event took place in front a statue of Zeus Horkios (Zeus of the Oaths). A sacrifice was offered and the athletes swore that they had trained properly (for the prescribed 10 months) and that they would obey the rules of the Games. Interestingly, their trainers, and even father and brothers, would join them in similar oaths. Finally, the Hellanodikes (ancient judges/officials) swore to judge fairly and without bias. Baron de Cobertin was keen to adopt a similar cermeony of committment and took the sentiment of Ethelbert Talbot, Bishop of Pennsylvania who addressed the athletes at the 1908 London Olympic Games. He said:

"The most important thing in the Olympic games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well."

Baron de Cobertin adopted this creed into an oath for the athletes to recite at each Olympic Games. During the opening ceremonies, one athlete recites the oath on behalf of all the athletes.

"In the name of all competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules that govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams."

The Olympic oath was first taken during the 1920 Olympic Games by Belgian épée fencer Victor Boin. Now a judge from the host city recites the Olympic creed, which appears on the scoreboard during the Opening Ceremony. The 1920 Olympic Games were not well attended and plagued with bad weather.

French runner, Joseph Guillermot ran the 10,000m race just after he had eaten a large meal. On the finishing line he was sick over an opponent's shoes.

. At age 72, Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn earned a silver medal in the team double-shot running deer event to become the oldest medallist ever.

The winner of the silver medal for the1500m was Philip Noel-Baker (GB) who later went on to become the only Olympian to ever be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

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