Friday, July 6, 2012

Olympics: Brief history of the Modern Games: 1928 Amsterdam

1928 Olympics in Amsterdam saw the introduction of the Olympic flame. The flame itself represents a number of things, including purity and the endeavor for perfection. Originally the flame was ignited by the sun and then kept burning until the closing of the Olympic Games. In all, 46 nations competed at the Games, with the United States winning 22 gold medals, more than double the total of any other nation.

Women were allowed to compete in track and field events (athletics) for the first time. Only five track and field events for women were held. These were the 100 metres, the 800 metres, the 4x100 metre relay, the high jump and the discus. The first women’s athletics gold medallist was 16-year-old American Elizabeth Robinson, winner of the 100m. She remains one of the youngest athletics champions in Olympic history. When several competitors collapsed in the 800m, women were banned from taking part in events more than 200m. This ban was eventually lifted in 1960.

German shoemaker Adi Dassler took running spikes a step further in 1925 by creating a range of shoes with hand forged spikes. He used state of the art materials to make the shoes as light as possible and designed them for different distances.

Adi Dassler designed the first pair of ladies running shoes for Lina Radke (Germany) to wear. She won gold for the 800m.

Two of the greatest names in Olympic history were in action in Amsterdam. The Flying Finn Paavo Nurmi, competing in his final Olympics, won one gold and two silver medals on the track; and Johnny Weissmuller (who later played Tarzan) won gold in the 100m freestyle and 4x100m freestyle relay.

After Joie Ray (US) finished 5th in the marathon, his feet were so swollen his track shoes had to be cut off to release his feet.

Middle distance runner Ugo Frigero (Italy) always insisted the band at the Olympic Stadium played music when he entered the stadium. He gave the bandleader a list of his favourite music and waved his arms to keep the musicians at the right tempo. Once he stopped during a race to yell instructions to the band.

HenrIn 1928 Australian rower, Henry Pearce, stopped halfway through his quarter-final race to let a family of ducks pass in front of his boat. The French competition overtook him, but Pearce managed to get back in front and win the gold.

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