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PARIS 1924

Paris was the hub of the civilised world in the 1920s, serving as temporary home to Hemingway, Joyce, Picasso and Stravinsky. During a heatwave it was probably not the greatest place for a sports festival but the Games proved a success.

Although the finals of the 1,500 and 5,000 metres had been scheduled only 55 minutes apart, the relentless Finn Paavo Nurmi won both. On the following day, with temperatures hovering around 35 degrees Celsius, he won the individual and a team gold in the cross country. A fifth gold medal came from the 3,000 metres team event.

Briton Harold Abrahams was as far ahead in his attitude to an amateur sport as Nurmi. Abrahams employed a professional coach who helped him become the first European to win the 100 metres title.

Johnny Weissmuller, best known of the screen Tarzans, won his first three gold medals in the pool and the Olympic motto "Citius, Altius, Fortius" (Swifter, Higher, Stronger) was introduced.



** The 1924 Games was originally awarded to Amsterdam, but IOC president Baron de Coubertin, then in his last term requested that the Games be transferred to Paris, in the hope that the bad image acquired in 1900 could be eradicated.

** The IOC for the first time during the 1924 Games, had taken steps to impose it authority on the staging of the Olympics so that never again could a host country add events as it wished. So this was the first IOC controlled Games.

** Although an Olympic village had been proposed for the 1924 Games, the idea was not carried through. The competitors were housed in huts scattered around the main site.

** Although four of the five 'enemy' countries accepted invitation for the 1924 Games, Germany was still not present due to its frosty relations with the host nation, because of the tension surrounding the payment of war reparations to France.

** Among the newcomers for the 1924 Games, Ireland was competing separately from Brtain for the first time.

** The newly instituted Olympic motto, Citius, Altius, Fortius (faster, higher, stronger), originally composed by Father Henri Didon in 1895, was impemented to the letter during the 1924 Games.

** In the 1924 Games the Closing Ceremony ritual of raising the three flags: the flag of the IOC, the flag of the host nation and the flag of the next host nation was introduced for the first time.

** William DeHart Hubbard of the USA became the first black athlete to win a gold medal in an individual event when he won the long jump in the 1924 Games.

** Robert Legendre, who had failed to qualify for the US team in the long jump, set a world record in the event while competing in the pentathlon just a day before the long jump final of the 1924 Games.

** The remarkable Finnish long distance runner Paavo Nurmi won the 1500m and 5000m golds within 100 minutes on the same day during the 1924 Games. He later went on to win three other golds in the 3000m team race and 10,000m cross-country team and individual events.

** Two Britons during the 1924 Games scored upsets wins when Harold Abrahams became the first European to win an Olympic 100m title, while Eric Liddle set a world record in taking the 400m.

** New Zealand's Arthur Porritt who won the bronze medal in the 100m event in the 1924 Games, later went on to become his country's Governor-General, and for more than 30 years, as surgeon to the British.

** American Harold Osborn won the gold in the high jump in the 1924 games had the habit of pressing the bar back against the uprights with his hand as he jumped, using the Western Roll technique. This led to a change in the event's rules.

** Perhaps the most modest of all Olympic gold medalists was Frenchman Pierre Coquelin de Lisle who won the small-bore rifle shooting event in the 1924 Games. After his victory he sent the following cable to his mother: 'Am Olympic champsion. World record beaten. Will arrive Tuesday morning."

** The 1924 Games was the first to introduce lane dividers in the pool for swimming events.

** Johnny Weissmuller who won three golds in the swiming events in the 1924 Games, later turned to films in the 1930s, where he starred as "Tarzan" in twelve movies.

** American female swimmer Gertrude Ederle, who had become the youngest person ever to set a world record in 1919 at the age of 12 years 298 days won a gold in the relay during the 1924 Games. Two years later in 1926 she became the first woman to swim the English channel, in a time almost two hours faster than any manhad ever achieved!

** Uruguay, the first South American country to enter the Olympic football competition won the gold in the 1924 Games.

** With son Alfred Swahn picking up his ninth shooting medal in his fourth Games in 1924, the Swedish father and son pair of Oscar and Alfred in all picked up six golds, four silvers and five bronzes.

** American Norris "Dick" Williams who won the gold in the mixed doubles tennis event in the 1924 Games was a survivor of the 1912 Titanic disaster. Williams then 21 years old when the disaster took place had watched his father die after being hit by a huge funnel. Wearing a fur coat he jumped into the freezing waters and was barely alive when he was rescued. The doctors wanted to amputate both his legs to avoid gangrene, but Williams refused. He recovered and very soon was a member of the US Davis Cup team in 1913.


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