These were the first Olympic Games since 394 A.D. They are considered the Modern Olympics because they are continued today. They were held from April 6 to April 15. About 245 athletes (all male) from 14 nations attended the Games. They competed in 43 events in 9 sports. Greece had the most medals, with 49.
An important victory was by Spirodon Louis of Greece in the marathon. The course he ran was part of the route of Pheidippides, who brought news of a Greek victory in the Battle of Marathon from Marathon to Athens in 490 B.C.
The 1900 Games were a disappointment after the orderly Athens Games. The Olympics were just a part of the International Exposition going on in Paris at that time. In fact, “Olympics” never appeared in the program, saying instead “Championnats Internationaux” of “Athletiques Amateurs.” The French Olympic Committee refused to build a track in Pre Catalan, and made track and field competitors run on a drawn 500m oval on the grass. Jumps and throws were also done on the grass.
The Games were held from May 15 to October 28. 1225 athletes (1216 men, 9 women) from 26 countries participated in 166 events in 24 sports. First place winners received silver medals, and second place finishers received bronze medals; gold medals were not awarded.
There was controversy about the marathon. The route was run through winding Paris streets. The winner was Michel Theato, a local delivery boy, who was familiar with the route. Arthur Newton, an American who ran the race, remembers passing Theato. Then Newton, when arriving at the finish, learned Theato had finished an hour before Newton! Newton believed that Theato used shortcuts to win the race. However, Theato was declared the winner.
Alvin Kraenzlein, an American track and field athlete, was the first person to win 4 individual gold medals. He won the 60m dash, the long jump, the 110m hurdles and 200m hurdles. France had the most medals, with 95.
The St. Louis Games were originally awarded to Chicago, but were changed to St. Louis to coincide with the World’s Fair held in the windy city. This Fair made the III Olympiad also a sideshow. The North American Games also brought another problem: many European nations chose not to attend because of high costs traveling overseas. Therefore, only 687 athletes from 13 nations attended. Although there were 104 events in six sports, about 500 of the athletes were Americans.
The Games were held from July 1 to November 23. It was during this Olympiad that gold, silver, and bronze medals were first given out to first, second, and third place finishers.
George Eyser, an American gymnast, won three gold medals even though he had a wooden leg.
Again, there was a marathon controversy. Fred Lotz, an American runner, quit the race after the 10th kilometer and rode in a car back to the stadium to pick up his clothes. When entering the stadium, the officials thought he had won the race. Lotz played along. Thomas Hicks, another American, was named the rightful winner when the trick was discovered. Hicks was given painkillers during the race, but there was no drug control in these Olympics as there is today.
Not surprisingly, the United States won the most medals at 236.
These Games were held out of the four-year pattern to increase excitement in the Olympic movement, and also to satisfy those who thought the Olympics should always be held in Greece, the site of the Ancient Games. The IOC (International Olympic Committee) agreed to let there be “Intercalated Games” in Athens between each Olympiad, like the Winter Olympics are now. However, this discontinued in 1910 (the next scheduled interim Games) because of political tensions that would lead to World War I.
Though not considered official by the IOC, these Games attracted 884 athletes from 20 countries. They were held from April 22 to May 2. Before 1906 universities and individual athletes filed themselves as from the U.S.; however, this year marked the first time an official U.S. team was chosen by the USOC (United States Olympic Committee.)
France won the most medals with 40.
London, Great Britain
The IV Olympiad was originally meant to be in Rome, Italy, but Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 1906 and Italian officials resigned the rights to holding the Olympics. The IOC decided to hold the Olympics in Great Britain. These Olympics are remembered as having several controversies between the British officials, who were sometimes very partial to their own athletes, and other countries especially the U.S.
The London Games were held from April 27 to October 31. Competing in 110 events in 21 sports from 22 countries were 2,035 athletes. The first winter sports were added (there were four figure skating competitions), so one could venture to say these were the first Winter Olympics.
Oscar Van, a Swedish shooter, competed at the age of 60 in these Olympics. During the opening ceremonies, American and Swedish athletes noticed that their flags were not flying in the stadium! In another flag moment, Finnish athletes chose to use no flag, since they would have to use the Russian flag, as Russia was occupying Finland at that time.
In the 400-meter race final, officials thought the three Americans would try to push Wyndham Halswelle, the only Briton, off the track. When Halswelle tried to pass John Carpenter, Carpenter ran wide and prevented Halswelle from passing him. The judges began yelling “Foul!” and one official grabbed one American runner, while another official broke the tape at the end of the course, which meant to one could win the race. The jury decided to disqualify Carpenter and rerun the race. The other two Americans quit in protest, which left Halswelle to run the race alone and be given the gold medal.
In the marathon, Dorando Pietri of Italy was in the lead coming into the stadium. However, he was so exhausted, he went the wrong way, then collapsed. Officials helped Pietri to his feet, but Pietri collapsed again. After three more collapses, the judges carried Pietri to the finish line. As this happened Johnny Hayes of the U.S. entered the stadium and crossed the finish line. Pietri was ruled the winner, though the rules state he should have been disqualified by being helped by the officials. Luckily, Hayes was ultimately ruled the gold medal recipient.
Great Britain had the most medals with 140.
The V Olympiad was, for a change, well-organized and had no controversies by the officials. It was held from July 6 to July 22. Competing in 102 events in 13 sports were 2.387 athletes. These Games introduced the electronic timing system, a marvel at that time.
In the 100 meter sprint final there were seven false starts, in one of which Ralph Craig (the eventual winner) and Don Lippencott, two American runners, ran the entire race!
The 1912 Games also produced some outstanding athletes. Jim Thorpe, a Native American of the U.S., won the decathlon and pentathlon, the hardest track and field events. He is the only man to have done this. However, it was later discovered that he had played semi-pro baseball in 1909 and 1910, making him a professional athlete. Because the Olympics are for amateurs, the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) erased his medals and records. They were recognized again in 1983, 29 years after Thorpe’s death.
Hannes Kolehmainen of Finland, the first “Flying Finn” won gold in the 5000m and 10000m races, and in the 12000m cross-country run. He also helped Finland win the silver medal in the 12000m team race.
The top four finishers in the 800m-race final all broke the current world record! Gottfried Fuchs of Germany scored ten goals in a consolation football (soccer) game versus Russia.
Sweden and the U.S. tied for the most medals at 63 each
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