Wembley stadium was pressed into service for a Games in which austerity was the keynote. Large sections of the city had been reduced to rubble by German bombers and rationing was in force.
Fanny Blankers-Koen had competed at the Berlin Games for the Netherlands. In 1948 she was 30 and a mother but she had still managed to train regularly during the German occupation and went to London as holder of seven world records.
In London she won gold medals in the 100 metres, 80 metres hurdles, 200 and 4x100 relay and would probably have finished first in the long jump as well if her husband had not advised her to withdraw.
French concert pianist Michelle Ostermeyer struck another blow for women athletes with gold medals in the discus and shot put, and bronze in the high jump. Seventeen-year-old American Bob Mathias won the decathlon only five months after taking up the multi-event.
** In 1936, Tokyo, Japan was awarded the 1940 Games and when
the Sino-Japanese war began in 1938 the Games were transferred to Helsinki,
Finland. But then with the invasion of the Soviet invasion of Finland in 1939,
the IOC awarded the 1944 Games to London, over competing claims from Detroit
(USA), Lausanne (Switzerland) and Rome (Italy). Then in 1946 through a postal
vote the IOC decided to hold the 1948 Games in London.
The founder of the modern Olympics Frenchman Baron de Coubertin had died in 1937
and his heart was buried at Olympia in Greece.
** The 1948
Games was organized by the British Olympic Association, under the presidency of
Lord Burghley, who incidentally had won the gold in the 400m hurdles at
Amsterdam in 1928.
** The famous Wembley Stadium, the home
of the British football, was the main venue for the 1948 Games.
** Due to the aftermath of the war, Britain still had
rationing of food and clothing. Housing were very short due to wartime
destruction, and the competitors were housed at RAF and Army camps (for men) and
colleges (for women).
** For the first time superior
photofinish equipments, as used on racecourses, was used in the 1948 Games for
the track events, but only to decide places.
** The 1948
Games were the first to be shown on home television although very few people in
Great Britain actually owned sets.
** The first political
defection took place in the 1948 Olympic Games when Marie Provaznikova, the
president of the technical commission of women's gymnastics, refused to return
to Communist-ruled Czechoslovakia.
** The 30-year-old Dutch
woman Francina "Fanny" Blankers-Koen won four gold medals in the track and field
events - which was a record for a female athlete.
woman athlete Francina "Fanny" Blankers-Koen created a new record when she
easily won the 200m gold in the 1948 Games. The gap between her and the silver
medallist (Britain's Audrey Williamson) was 0.7 sec - which still remains the
largest margin of victory ever achieved in an Olympic sprint, by men or women.
** In the women's high jump at London in 1948, Britain's
Dorothy Tyler (nee Odam) won her second successive silver medal after winning
one 12 years earlier at Berlin in 1936. Interestingly on both the occasions she
had cleared the same height as the winner.
** At 17 years
263 days American Bob Mathias became the youngest ever male Olympic individual
athletics champion when he won the decathlon in the 1948 Games.
** Duncan White of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) became the only
medallist of his country when he won the silver in the 400m hurdles at the 1948
** In the marathon event of the 1948 Games, an
exhausted Etiene Gailly (Belgium), was passed by two runners before the tape,
although he was the first to enter the stadium.
Audrey Patterson who won a bronze in the 200m sprint in the 1948 Games became
the first black woman to earn an Olympic medal.
Alice Coachman who won the high jump in the 1948 Games became the first black
female gold medallist
** Sweden who had won the equestrian
team dressage event in the 1948 Games was disqualified the following year and
their medals were taken away, when it was learned that one of their member,
Gehnall Persson, was not a commissioned officer as the rules then required.
** Finnish gymnast Heikki Savolainen at the age of 40 and
making his fourth Olympic appearance at London in 1948, won his first gold on
the pommel horse.
** Sweden , who won the 1948 Olympic
football gold, scored one of the strangest goals in the history of the sport in
their semi-final match against Denmark. Centre-forward Gunnar Nordahl, leapt
into the Danish goalnet to avoid being offside during a Swedish attack. At the
end of the move his inside-left headed the ball into the goal, where in the
absence of the Danish keeper it caught by Nordahl.
Craig, the 1912 double spirit champion made a reappearance after 36 years in the
1948 Games when he was a part of the American yachting team. Although he carried
the US flag in the opening ceremony, he did not actually compete.
** The Star class of the 1948 yachting event was won by the
father/son combination of Paul and Hilary Smart of the US. Interestingly the
silver was also won by a father-son combination of Carlos de Cardenas Sr. and
Jr. from Cuba.
** Hungarian shooter Karoly Takacs had
shattered his right hand - his pistol hand - when a grenade blew up. He taught
himself to shot with the left hand to win the gold in the rapid-fire pistol
event in the 1948 Games.
** The 1948 Games saw the start of
an exceptional Olympic career of Durward Knowles who competed in the yachting
events for Britain. He then represented the Bahamas in the next seven Games till
the 1988 Seoul Games.