Monday, July 30, 2012

Olympics :History of the Modern Games - 1988 Seoul

The 1988 Summer Olympics were held in Seoul, South Korea. One hundred and sixty (160 nations) were represented by a total of 8391 athletes (6197 men and 2194 women) and 263 events were held. South Korea, Albania, Cuba, Madagascar and Seychelles boycotted the games. For differing reasons, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and Albania did not participate in the Games.

Live doves were released during the Opening Ceremony as a symbol of world peace, but a number of the doves were burned alive by the lighting of the Olympic cauldron. The Opening Ceremonies were highlighted by a skydiving team descending over the stadium and forming the 5-colored Olympic Rings. The opening ceremony also featured a mass demonstration of taekwondo with hundreds of adults and children performing moves in unison.

To publicize the Games the Seoul Olympic Organizing Committee (SLOOC) produced and distributed an official song of the Seoul Games to all the IOC member nations, encouraging their participation in the festival and consolidating the harmony and friendship of the entire world citizens through the song. The song "Hand in Hand." was written by Italian composer Giorgio Moroder and American songwriter Tom Whitlock, and performed by singing group Koreana. "Hand in Hand" topped popular songs in 17 countries including Sweden, Federal Rep. Of Germany, the Philippines, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Japan and Hong Kong and was listed among the top 10s of the popular songs in more than 30 countries.

The Seoul mascot was Hodori the tiger cub. Hodori is a well known character in Korean legends and portrays the friendly and hospitable traditions of the Korean people. The amateur rule, which had plagued athletes and officials alike since the beginning of the Olympic Games, was finally overturned in 1986. It was now up to individual sports groups to determine whether or not "professionals" should be allowed to compete in the Olympics. This new rule allowed tennis to return to the Olympic Games, not having appeared since 1924 when it was eliminated because of professional/amateur difficulties.

Canadian, Ben Johnson won the 100 m with a new world record, but was later disqualified after he tested positive for stanozolol. Carl Lewis proved the winner.

Florence "Flo-Jo" Griffith-Joyner put sartorial style into women's track events. After demolishing the world record in the 100 m dash at the Olympic Trials in Indianapolis, she set an Olympic record (10.62) in the 100-meter dash and a world record (21.34) in the 200-meter dash to capture gold medals in both events. To these medals, she adds a gold in the 4×100 relay and a silver in the 4×400. Just after the Games, she announces her retirement. Much later it was shown "Flo-Jo" had used performance enhancing drugs.

Steffi Graf (Germany) won the Olympic Singles Tennis gold medal wearing adidas shoes The coloured pegs gave customised cushioning and the strip on the toe was to cope with toe dragging. The soles were for the first time injection moulded.

US diver Greg Louganis won back-to-back titles on both diving events, but only after hitting the springboard with his head in the 3 m event final. There was a minor controversy years later when Louganis revealed he knew he was HIV-positive at the time, and did not tell anybody.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Olympics: History of the Modern Games: 1984 Los Angeles

The 1984 Summer Olympics were officially known as the Games of the XXIII Olympiad and took place in Los Angeles. U.S. President Ronald Reagan officially opened the Games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Etta James performed the National Anthem. To keep cost manageable, Los Angeles used existing facilities except a swim stadium and a velodrome that were paid for by corporate sponsors. The 1984 Summer Olympics are often considered the most financially successful modern Olympics.

The cauldron was lit by Rafer Johnson, (winner of the decathlon at the 1960 Summer Olympics). He touched off the flame which then passed through a specially designed flammable Olympic logo, igniting all five rings. The flame then passed up to cauldron atop the peristyle and remained aflame for the duration of the Games. Approximately 6,000 athletes participated, representing 140 countries. Fourteen (14) Eastern Bloc countries including the Soviet Union, Cuba and East Germany (but not Romania) boycotted the LA Games. Both Iran and Libya also boycotted.

The mascot for Los Angles Olympics was Sam the Olympic Eagle and was designed by Disney artists. Eleven athletes failed drug tests at the Los Angeles Games.

Barefoot runner Zola Budd (born in South Africa) was unable to complete until she took British Citizenship. She ran in the final of the 3000m, against US favourite, Mary Decker. Budd, the barefooted pacesetter, stumbled after Decker accidentally spiked her heel, neither runner recovered leaving Maricica Puica of Romania, a clear winner. Budd was disqualified, briefly, but the Olympics' director of athletics decided "there was no foul" and reinstated her. Puica and several other athletes said that Decker was to blame. Needless to say, that wasn't how the American saw it. "Zola tripped me," Decker said.

Carl Lewis made his first of four appearances at the Olympics, equaled the 1936 performance of Jesse Owens by winning four gold medals, in the 100 m, 200 m, 4x100 m relay and long jump.

After Gabriella Dorio (Italy won gold in women’s 1500m she celebrated her victory in a bath of wine.

Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco became the first female Olympic champion of a Muslim nation, and the first of her country in the 400 m hurdles.

Li Ning from the People's Republic of China won 6 medals in gymnastics, 3 gold, 2 silver, and 1 bronze, earning him the nickname "Prince of Gymnasts" in China.

Reviewed 18/04/2016

Olympics: History of the Modern Games: 1980 Moscow

Eighty-one nations participated in the first Games to be held in a Communist country. The US team did boycotted by the Games in protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Fifteen other countries marched in the Opening Ceremony with the Olympic Flag instead of their national flags, and the Olympic Flag and Olympic Hymn were used at Medal Ceremonies when athletes from these countries won medals. Liberia took part in the opening Ceremony but withdrew from competition.

Despite the lowest of competing countries since 1956, there were 203 events which were more than at any previous Olympics and just over a fifth (21%) of the competitors were female. Eight nations appeared for the first time at an Olympics – Angola, Botswana, Laos, Nicaragua, Seychelles, Mozambique and Cyprus. Zimbabwe also made its first appearance under that name; it had previously competed as Rhodesia.

Referred to as the Olympic Boycott Games, the Games of the XXIII Olympiad was plagued by charges of rigged judging and poor sportsmanship. There were 9,292 drug tests and none positive. The mascot was a bear called Misha which was designed by Victor Chizokov.

During the opening ceremony, Salyut 6 crew Leonid Popov and Valery Ryumin sent their greetings to the Olympians and wished them happy starts in the live communication between the station and the Central Lenin

Major broadcasters of the Games were USSR State TV and Radio. The NBC, had intended to be a major broadcaster but canceled in response to the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics.

The most thrilling moment of the Games came in the last lap of the 1,500 meters where Sebastian Coe of Great Britain outran countryman Steve Ovett and Jurgen Straub of East Germany for the gold.

In the pole vault competition, despite pleas for silence in three languages, jeers, chants and whistles among the different factions in the crowd supporting French, Soviet and Polish pole vaulters could be heard.

Immediately after Kozakiewicz secured his gold medal, he responded to the jeering Soviet crowds with an obscene bent elbow gesture. This gesture is now referred to in Polish as "Kozakiewicz's gesture".

At the closing ceremony, the Los Angeles city flag, rather than the United States flag, was raised to symbolize the next host of the Olympic Games, and the Olympic flag was handed over to the IOC President rather than to the mayor of Los Angeles. This was the first time that the Olympic Flag Handover took place during the closing ceremony.

Reviewed 2/04/2016

Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympics :History of the Modern Games - 1976 Montreal

The XXI Olympiad was held in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in 1976. The first Olympic Games to be held in Canada they were opened by Elizabeth II, as head of state of Canada. The Canadian Olympics were full of controversy and ran well over budget.

The Olympic Flame was "electronically" transmitted via satellite from Athens to Ottawa, by means of an electronic pulse derived from the actual burning flame. From Ottawa, it was carried by hand to Montreal. After a rainstorm doused the Olympic flame a few days after the games had opened, an official relit the flame using his cigarette lighter. Organizers quickly doused it again and relit it using a backup of the original flame.

The games were marred by an African boycott involving 22 countries. The boycott was organised by Tanzania to protest the fact that the New Zealand rugby team had toured apartheid South Africa and that New Zealand was scheduled to compete in the Olympic Games. The ABC broadcast of the Summer Olympic Games in Montreal live to the US with an unprecedented 77 hours of coverage.

The mascot for Montreal Olympics was Amik the friendly beaver.

When the Israeli team walked into the stadium at the Opening Ceremonies, their national flag was adorned with a black ribbon in commemoration of the 1972 Munich massacre.

Super Fin, Virén ran a barefoot lap of honour to celebrate a gold medal victory in the 10,000 metre race. He held his Ascis runners aloft for the benefit of the cameras. Following this type of exposure the popularity in sales of certain manufacturing brands of running shoes grew expotentially.

Olmeus Charles (Haiti) was last in the 10,000 metres race. He completed the course in 42 minutes 00.11 seconds. The rest of the runners lapped him at least three times and the winner finished so far ahead he would have had time to complete another 5,000 metres. An argument broke out among the track officials as to whether he should be allowed to finish the course. Happily, the crowd were not denied this fine sight and the entire Olympic timetable was held up by fourteen minutes.

Gymnast, Nadia Comăneci (Romania) scored seven perfect 10.0 and won three gold medals. She became the first female to score a perfect ten at the Olympics and had a pair of shoes named after her.

They were designed to mimic the function of the foot in the most natural way by reinforcing the heel and the forefoot where the highest pressures occur in gymnastics.

Japanese gymnast Shun Fujimoto performed on a broken right knee, and helped the Japanese team win the gold medal for the team championship. Fujimoto broke his leg on the floor exercise, and due to the closeness in the overall standings with the USSR, he hid the extent of the injury. With a broken knee, Fujimoto was able to complete his event on the rings, performing a perfect triple somersault dismount, maintaining perfect posture.

Princess Anne of the United Kingdom was the only female competitor not to have to submit to a sex test and was exempted from the mandatory physical examination. She was a member of her country's equestrian team.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ryan Lochte: the winged messenger

US swimmer Ryan Lochte cruised into the Aquatics Centre with a pair of winged kicks. The wings surged out of the back of the shoe and could be seen across the pool. The right shoe was a blue wing with white stars and the left shoe was red with stripes. The base of the shoes were solid white so the wings were bold colors. Getting ready for the Olympic Games, Ryan is going to need more than a cool pair of shoes to win. While the real competition comes in the water with a showdown between Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

OIympics : History of the Modern Games - 1972 Munich

The 1972 Summer Olympics were officially known as the Games of the XX Olympiad, and were held in Munich, West Germany. The official motto was "the Happy Games," and although the intention was well meant what transpired was the saddest outcome of any Olympiad. The optimistic logo for the games was a bright blue sun designed by Hungarian artist Viktor Vasarely. For the first time, the Olympic Oath was taken by a representative of the referees.

The Olympic Park (Olympiapark) was based on Frei Otto's plans, with sweeping canopies of acrylic glass stabilized by metal ropes. The competition sites, designed by architect Günther Behnisch, included the Olympic swimming hall, the Olympics Hall (Olympiahalle, a multipurpose facility) and the Olympic Stadium (Olympiastadion), and an Olympic village very close to the park. Eleven nations made their first Olympic appearance in Munich: Albania, Burkina Faso (as Upper Volta), Benin (as Dahomey), Gabon, North Korea, Lesotho, Malawi, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Swaziland, Togo.


The 1972 Olympic Games saw the introduction of the first official Olympic mascot called "Waldi". The striped dachshund character was designed by Otl Aicher (Otto Aicher). He also originated a new set of sports pictograms which consisted of stick figures which were eventually adopted for public signs.

The sporting nature of the games was largely overshadowed by the Munich massacre in which eleven Israeli athletes and coaches, a West German police officer, and five terrorists were killed. Munich became known as the Black September Games . The attack prompted heightened security at all subsequent Olympic events .

Mark Spitz, a swimmer from the United States, set a world record when he won seven gold medals (while on the way to setting a new world record for each of his seven gold medals) in a single Olympics, bringing his lifetime total to nine (he had won two golds in Mexico City's Games four years earlier). Being Jewish, Spitz was forced to leave Munich before the closing ceremonies for his own protection, after fears arose that he would be an additional target of those responsible for the Munich massacre. Spitz's record stood until 2008, when it was beaten by Michael Phelps who won 8 gold medals in the pool.

Nike introduced wedged heeled running shoes. After winning the 10,000 m., Lasse Virén did a lap of honour barefoot holding his running shoes aloft. This is thought to represent the first publicity stunt to promote a specific brand.

Kip Keino won gold in the 1500m and 3000m steeplechase was one of the first athletes to wear open mesh design running shoes. Atthe end of each lap there is a water jump and open mesh shoes were designed to cope with the water.

Steve Profontane was a middle and long-distance runner who became the first major track person to wear Nikes.

Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut became known as the Munchkin of Munich. The 17-year-old won three gold medals. More significantly, her personal charm, flair and grace turned artistic gymnastics into a global television spectacle, as live broadcasts reached more people and more nations than ever before.

After the final of the men's hockey the Pakistan hockey team protested at the poor refereeing and refused their silver medals as runners up. Eventually the team recanted and some chose to wear them on their shoes. The entire team was suspended.

A medical adviser for Britain’s team recommended athletes indulge in “about half an hour of sexual activity to maximize the onset, quantity, and quality of sleep” the night before an athletic event. But he warned that athletes following his advice should be accustomed to a pattern of sexual intercourse. Otherwise, he said, “the muscle tension involved might result in severe stiffness and aching the next day.”

Reviewed 22/03/2016

LOCOG put their foot down

Schoolchildren taking part in a Guard of Honour for athletes ahead of the Olympics Opening Ceremony have been told to wear Adidas shoes to avoid being turned away. The eight youngsters from John Hampden Primary in Oxfordshire have been informed they must either wear shoes made by the Olympics sponsor or have no visible branding on their trainers at all. LOCOG, the organisational committee for the games, confirmed the regulations. 'They have been given practical guidance on clothing, including footwear and we’ve advised comfortable, unbranded or Adidas shoes should be worn.’ 2,000 performers will take part in the Guard of Honour and line the route as participants make their way from the Village to the Stadium ahead of the Athletes Parade. Olympic chiefs have already been accused of taking too heavy-handed an approach to protecting the rights of sponsors. Frisbees are already banned, as are long-lens cameras, Che Guevara T-shirts and vuvuzelas.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Olympics: Brief history of the Modern Games - 1968 Mexico

The 1968 Summer Olympics were officially known as the Games of the XIX Olympiad, and held in Mexico City, Mexico in 1968. The first Games to be staged in a Spanish-speaking country came with genuine concern the high elevation of Mexico City, at 2,240 m (7,350 ft) above sea level would adversely affect endurance athletes. The IOC bowed to international pressure, and set a limited amount of time a team could train at Mexico City. Many experts believe despite, the thin air it contributed to many record-setting jumps, leaps, vaults, and throws, as well as all of the men's track events of 400 meters and less.

Ten days prior to the opening, the Mexican army surrounded a group of students protesting against the Mexican government at the Plaza of Three Cultures. Sadly they opened and fire killing 267 and wounding over 1,000 people. Despite vigorous protest Avery Brundage*, (president of the IOC), decided not to cancel the games. Sociologist Harry Edwards, the founder of the OPHR, had urged black athletes to boycott the games. During the opening ceremony, students flew a bird-shaped kite over the presidential box to shape a black dove as a silent protest for the repression and reminder to the world of the Tlatelolco massacre.

Norma Enriqueta Basilio de Sotelo of Mexico became the first woman to light the Olympic cauldron with the Olympic flame. It was also the first games where the closing ceremony was transmitted in colour to the entire world.

Dick Fosbury (US) executed his backward "Fosbury Flip" at 7' 4 1/2" to win the high jump. Fosby used an unsual jumping technique jumpeing over the bar backwards and head first. At first this provoked and became known as the "Fosbury flop." Later the style was adopted to the sport.

Fosby was very partcular about his shoes and insisted on wearing different spikes on his take off shoe. He experiemented with weight and wore shoes of different mass and colour on each foot.

Bob Beamon (United States) made headlines with an amazing long jump. Known as an erratic jumper because he often took off with the wrong foot, Beamon tore down the runway, jumped with the correct foot, cycled through the air with his legs, and landed at 8.90 meters. This was a new world record 63 centimeters beyond the old record.

Bob Beamon wore Weltrekord shoes to achieve his record setting 8.9m long jump.

This was the first Olympics to use a synthetic all-weather surface for track and field events; the "Tartan" surface was originally developed by 3M for horse racing, but later used in athletics. Brush Spikes replaced the traditional 4-spike running shoe. Mexico was the last time cinder tracks were used at the Olympics and sports-shoe manufacturers were quick to recognise changes were necessary in shoe design and the construction of spikes for the new synthetic tracks.

John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania became internationally famous after finishing the marathon, in last place, despite a dislocated knee.

At the presentation for the 200 metre race, Tommie Smith ( US - gold), Peter Norman (Silver - Australia ) and John Carlos (US - Bronze) , took their places on the podium. Smith and Caros wore black socks without shoes, and all three wore Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) badges. As the Star Spangled Banner was played. Smith and Carlos lowered their heads and each raised their left arm and gave a black-gloved fist. In an immediate response to their actions, Smith and Carlos were suspended from the U.S. team and banned from the Olympic Village.

On the way to the winner’s podium Carlos realized he had left his gloves in the Olympic Village. Peter Norman, suggested Carlos wear Smith's left-handed glove, this being the reason behind him raising his left hand. In the years immediately following the Games Smith and Carlos were largely ostracized by the U.S. sporting establishment. When Peter Norman was about his support for Smith and Carlos' cause he replied he was protesting against the Australian government's White Australia policy. Norman's actions resulted in a reprimand and his absence from the following Olympic Games in Munich (despite easily making the qualifying time). Years later at the Sydney Olympics 2000 he was not given an invitation to join other Australian medallists at the opening ceremony. . Smith and Carlos acted as pallbearers at his funeral in 2006.

Promoters wasted no time at the Mexican Olympics displaying their brand insignias on the champions for the world to see. Before this shoe advertisements showing Olympians receiving their glittering prizes and wearing branded shoes had to have their faces blotted out. The sight of Tommy Smith photographed in his Puma Suedes giving the Black Power fist was a powerful image closely identified by many young people around the globe. At this time it was alleged track athletes were given monetary rewards for wearing certain competition shoes.

In another incident, while standing on the medal podium after the balance beam event final, Czechoslovakian gymnast Věra Čáslavská quietly turned her head down and away during the playing of the Soviet national anthem. The action was Čáslavská's silent protest against the recent Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and was repeated when she accepted her medal for her floor exercise routine. Earlier, in her homeland, she had been forced into hiding when Russian tanks advanced, and she had practiced for the Olympics in cellars.

The introduction of doping tests resulted in the first disqualification because of doping. Swedish pentathlete, Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall was disqualified for alcohol use. He had consumed several beers prior to competing.

*Brundage had been one of the United States' most prominent Nazi sympathisers, and his removal as president of the IOC was one of the three stated objectives of the Olympic Project for Human Rights

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Olympics : Brief History of the Modern Games - 1964 Tokyo Olympics

The Games of the XVIII Olympiad were held in Tokyo, Japan in 1964. These were the first Olympics to be held in Asia and celebrated Japan's progress and re-emergence on the world stage after the Second World War. About 5,000 athletes participated, representing 93 countries including the nation of Malaysia, which had formed the previous year by a union of Malaya, British North Borneo and Singapore. Something like an estimated $US 3 billion was spent to rebuild and modernize the city with improved infrastructure.

Yūji Koseki composed the theme song of the opening ceremony.

Yoshinori Sakai, lit the Olympic Flame, and was born in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the day an atomic bomb was dropped on that city.

The Tokyo games were the first to be telecast live internationally with the use of communication satellites. The broadcast of the opening ceremony was watched by over 70% of the viewing public, and the women's volleyball team's gold medal match was watched by over 80%. For the first time South Africa was barred from taking part due to its apartheid system in sports and Indonesia, and North Korea were absent after they voluntarily withdrew their teams.

The 1964 Olympic Games debuted the first use of computers to keep results. For swimming, a new timing system started the clock by the sound of the starter gun and stopped it with touchpads. The photo finish using a photograph with lines on it was introduced to determine the results of sprints. This was also the last Summer Olympics to use a cinder running track for athletic events, and the first to use fiberglass poles for pole vaulting.

US Sprinter Bob Hayes equaled the world record of 10 seconds flat in the 100 metres, but stunned the crowd with a sub-nine second, come-from-behind anchor leg to lead the U.S. to set a world record in the 4x100 meters.

Billy Mills, an American Indian borrowed shoes and won the 10,000m. American sponsors thought so little of his chances, they refused to give him shoes. He won by 10m, in 28:24, an Olympics record.

Ethiopian marathoner Abebe Bikila was the first man to successfully defend the marathon title (1960 and 1964). This time less than six weeks after having his appendix removed. He won this time wearing shoes. Later, in 1968, after dropping out with an ankle injury, he met with a tragic auto accident which left his legs paralyzed.

After New Zealander, Peter Snell won the 800- and 1,500-m. runs his teammates broke into a dance during the closing parade.

British runner Ann Packer set a world record in becoming the surprise winner of the 800 m, having never run the distance at international level prior to the Games.

She broke the world record wearing the lightest-ever spikes adidas had ever produced. The shoes were made using 1mm kangaroo leather and weighed just 80g.

Australian, Dawn Fraser won gold in the 100m freestyle becoming the first swimmer to win a gold medal in the same event at three consecutive Olympic Games. She also set a world record with a time of 59.5 seconds that was not broken until 1972. Fraser’s appearance at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics was later marred with controversy. Amongst a number of misdemeanors, the Australian Swimming Union ended her Olympic career when they suspended her for 10 years after it was discovered she stole an Olympic flag from a flagpole outside Emperor Hirohito’s imperial palace. She was arrested but released without charge. The Emperor subsequently gave her the flag as a souvenir. Another Australian, Bob Windle, a relative unknown, won the 1500m swimming event and set an Olympic record time of 17min 1.7seconds.

Americans won so many track and field titles that the Japanese played an abbreviated version of the "Star-Spangled Banner." One fan, an MGM musician, did not like that and, sitting below the torch, finished the anthem on his trumpet.

Tamara Press again won the shot put and added the discus title; her sister Irina won the pentathlon, a new event for women. The Soviet defending discus champion was so distressed to finish 5th that, in the tradition of female Olympians, she had her hair cut off.

This was the last time women could compete without a "sex test." Sprinter Ewa Klobukowska of Poland, 3rd in the 100-m., was later found to have an irregular chromosome count and failed the "sex test" before the European Cup meet.

Joe Frazier, future heavyweight champion of the world, won a gold medal for the USA in heavyweight boxing after being put in as a late replacement .