September 5, 1972, was the blackest day in Olympic history. Six Palestinians broke through the perfunctory security in the village, joined two others already there and made their way to the Israeli headquarters. Two Israelis were killed and nine taken hostage. In a subsequent battle, all nine hostages were killed, plus five of the Palestinians and a policeman.
In a controversial decision IOC president Avery Brundage decided the Games would go ahead, although every event was inevitably overshadowed by the hostage tragedy.
Mark Spitz surpassed Schollander with seven gold medals in the pool and the tiny Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut captivated millions of televison viewers with her performances in the separate apparatus competitions.
Finn Lasse Viren revived memories of his remarkable predecessors with gold medals in the 5,000 and the 10,000 metres and the versatile Kenyan Kip Keino, winner of the 1,500m four years earlier, won the steeplechase.
** Munich, West Germany was awarded the 1972 Games in 1966.
** The triangulation device to measure distances in the
athletics throwing events was introduced for the first time during the 1972
** The opening ceremony of the 1972 Munich Games was
watched on television by a live audience of 1000 million which was then a
** The theme for the 1972 Games was the spread of
peace, but within 10 days of the Games Palestine terrorists struck in the
Village by taking Israeli team as hostage and later killing them.
** One of the runners in the torch relay bringing the
Olympic flame to Munich was 78-year-old Edgar Fried, a former general-secretary
of the Austrian Olympic Committee, who had been in the original torch relay in
1936 at Berlin.
** German athlete Heidi Schuller, who took
the oath in the 1972 Games became the first woman to do so.
** For the first time the oath for the judges was
introduced in the 1972 Games.
** American swimmer Mark
Spitz in the 1972 Games won a record seven gold medals - the maximum won by any
competitor in one Games.
** Soviet Union's Valeriy Borzov
in 1972 became the first European to win the men's sprint double on the track.
** For the first time since 1920, a team from outside the
Indian sub-continent won the field hockey title, when host Germany beat Pakistan
in the final of the 1972 Games.
** In a controversial
basketball final in the 1972 Games, the United States were defeated by the
Soviet Union, thus ending the American's 63 consecutive victories in the Games
** In the 1972 Games Kenyan Kipchoge Keino
added the 3000m steeplechase title to the 1500m that he had won in Mexico in
1968, thus making him the first runner since American James Lightbody (in 1904)
to win Olympic titles at the two distances.
Shorter of the United States who won the 1972 marathon was incidentally born at
** Romanian discus thrower Lia Manoliu during the
1972 Games participated in her sixth Games since 1952, which is a record by an
athlete in the track and field events.
** American Chris
Taylor who won the silver in the wrestling event of the 1972 Games, is
considered to be the heaviest man to compete in the Olympics. He weighed 186.88
kgs (412 pounds).
** American basketball player Tom
Burleson in the 1972 Games was 7 ft 3 in (2.23m) in height, thus making him the
tallest ever competitor to participate in any sport in the Olympics.
** Liselott Linsenhoff of West Germany became the first
woman to win an individual equestrian event during the 1972 Games.
** Britain's Lorna Johnstone was 70 years 5 days when she
competed in the 1972 equestrian dressage event, thus making her the oldest ever
female competitor in Olympic history.