Search:



The Web

Rediff




Athens 2004
News
Schedule
Venues
History
Gallery
Records
Games
Features



Home > Sports > Athens 2004



History

LONDON 1908

After an unofficial Olympics in Athens in 1906, partly to appease those Greeks who felt they should stage every Games, Rome was given the 1908 Games.

They were reassigned to London after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1906 provided Italy with more urgent problems.

Again the marathon provided the biggest talking point. The present distance of 42.195 kms was determined when organisers set a course from Windsor Castle to the royal box in the Olympic stadium.

On a rare fiercely hot day, the distance proved too much for Italian Dorando Pietri, who was illegally assisted across the line after arriving first in the stadium all but unconscious and starting to circle the track the wrong way.

American John Hayes was awarded the gold medal, a consolation to the U.S. team who had been incensed when the British did not fly the Stars and Stripes along with the other national flags in the stadium.

A worse row broke out in the 400 metres final when the judges, convinced that the lone British runner Wyndham Halswelle had been obstructed by one of three Americans, stopped the race by shouting "Foul" and breaking the tape early. The perceived offender was disqualified and after his two team mates refused to run in a replay, Halswelle trotted around alone to win the gold medal.

Reuters

Facts:

** The 1908 Games was originally awarded to Rome, who withdrew because of financial problems. The Games was then awarded to London in November 1906.

** The 1908 Games saw the first official American team, selected by the US Olympic Committee, thus ending the practice of colleges, clubs and private individuals entering the event.

** A stadium for 68,000 people at a cost of 40,000 was built in West London. It was known as the White City Stadium.

** Although the 1908 Games set standards for Olympic organisers to follow, allegations were made against the British that they had adopted questionable tactics to ensure themselves of the most medals.

** The demonstration sport for the 1908 Games was bicycle polo, in which Ireland beat Germany 3-1.

** For the first time, participation in the Olympics was by nations, as opposed to individuals.

** Ralph Rose, the American flag bearer (who later won the shotput gold), refused to dip the flag to King Edward VII at the marchpast.

** In the controversial 400m final, British runner Wyndham Halswelle ran alone as the rest of the field, all Americans, withdrew in protest when one of their colleagues was disqualified. Halswelle gained gold in the only walkover in Olympic history.

** John Taylor, who was part of the gold medal-winning American team in the 400m relay, became the first black to win an Olympic gold.

** Forrest Smithson, an American student of theology, protested against the decision to run the 110m hurdles final on a Sunday, but proceeded to break the world record and win gold, supposedly carrying a Bible in his left hand.

** Oscar and Alfred Swahn of Sweden became the first father and son to win gold medals in the shooting event.

** Archers Willy and Lottie Dod of Great Britain became the first brother and sister medalists, when they won gold and silver respectively.

** J W H T 'Johnny' Douglas, who captained and appeared in 23 Tests for England from 1911 to 1925, won gold in the middleweight boxing event at London. He remains the only cricketer to win a medal at the Olympics.

** Originally, the distance for the London marathon was 25 miles, but the start was moved to Windsor Castle, an exact 26 miles. Then at Princess Mary's request it was moved again to start beneath the windows of the royal nursery on the castle grounds, making a final distance of 26 miles, 385 yards (42 km, 195m). This arbitrarily arrived-at distance was accepted as the standard length of the marathon in 1924.

** Italy's Dorando Pietri was the first to reach the stadium in the marathon, but fell five times on the last lap. Over-zealous officials helped him over the finish line. American Johnny Hayes, who finished second, protested. The protest was upheld and Pietri was disqualified. He was later presented a special gold cup by the Queen.

** The 1908 London Games marked the first appearance of field hockey.

** At London, Ray Ewry of the United States became the only athlete in Olympic history to win a career best of eight gold medals.
** The 1908 Games was originally awarded to Rome, who withdrew because of financial problems. The Games was then awarded to London in November 1906.

** The 1908 Games saw the first official American team, selected by the US Olympic Committee, thus ending the practice of colleges, clubs and private individuals entering the event.

** A stadium for 68,000 people at a cost of 40,000 was built in West London. It was known as the White City Stadium.

** Although the 1908 Games set standards for Olympic organisers to follow, allegations were made against the British that they had adopted questionable tactics to ensure themselves of the most medals.

** The demonstration sport for the 1908 Games was bicycle polo, in which Ireland beat Germany 3-1.

** For the first time, participation in the Olympics was by nations, as opposed to individuals.

** Ralph Rose, the American flag bearer (who later won the shotput gold), refused to dip the flag to King Edward VII at the marchpast.

** In the controversial 400m final, British runner Wyndham Halswelle ran alone as the rest of the field, all Americans, withdrew in protest when one of their colleagues was disqualified. Halswelle gained gold in the only walkover in Olympic history.

** John Taylor, who was part of the gold medal-winning American team in the 400m relay, became the first black to win an Olympic gold.

** Forrest Smithson, an American student of theology, protested against the decision to run the 110m hurdles final on a Sunday, but proceeded to break the world record and win gold, supposedly carrying a Bible in his left hand.

** Oscar and Alfred Swahn of Sweden became the first father and son to win gold medals in the shooting event.

** Archers Willy and Lottie Dod of Great Britain became the first brother and sister medalists, when they won gold and silver respectively.

** J W H T 'Johnny' Douglas, who captained and appeared in 23 Tests for England from 1911 to 1925, won gold in the middleweight boxing event at London. He remains the only cricketer to win a medal at the Olympics.

** Originally, the distance for the London marathon was 25 miles, but the start was moved to Windsor Castle, an exact 26 miles. Then at Princess Mary's request it was moved again to start beneath the windows of the royal nursery on the castle grounds, making a final distance of 26 miles, 385 yards (42 km, 195m). This arbitrarily arrived-at distance was accepted as the standard length of the marathon in 1924.

** Italy's Dorando Pietri was the first to reach the stadium in the marathon, but fell five times on the last lap. Over-zealous officials helped him over the finish line. American Johnny Hayes, who finished second, protested. The protest was upheld and Pietri was disqualified. He was later presented a special gold cup by the Queen.

** The 1908 London Games marked the first appearance of field hockey.

** At London, Ray Ewry of the United States became the only athlete in Olympic history to win a career best of eight gold medals.


Advertisement




Copyright © 2004 rediff.com India Limited. All Rights Reserved.