The Web


Athens 2004

Home > Sports > Athens 2004



Defying the depression which had thrown a quarter of Americans out of work, Los Angeles staged an Olympics sparkling with Hollywood glitter and glamour.

Will Rogers, Gary Cooper and Clark Gable attended competitions. Mary Pickford and her husband Douglas Fairbanks Snr entertained favoured guests.

For the first time athletes were housed in an Olympic village, albeit only the men, guarded by cowboys riding around the perimeter.

Nurmi was denied a chance of a 10th gold medal, this time in the marathon, when he was banned for accepting expenses.

American teenager Babe Didrikson, nicknamed after baseball slugger Babe Ruth, proved a sensation, qualifying for all five women's track and field events although she was allowed to compete in only three.

Didrickson, who excelled at every sport she tried, won the hurdles in world record time, finished second in the high jump, also bettering the world mark, and won the javelin.



** United States in 1920 had applied to host the Games of 1924 and 1928 but it was only in 1923, Los Angeles was awarded the 1932 Games.

** The turnout for the 1932 Los Angeles Games was the lowest since the 1904 St Louis Games and only half as many athletes took part as had in the 1928 Games.

** The entire 1932 Games lasted just 16 days while the earlier Games from 1900 to 1928 were of nearly 80 days duration.

** For the first time the concept of an Olympic Village was introduced in the 1932 Games with the construction of 550 specially designed small houses for male competitors only. The women were accommodated in a luxury hotel.

** Despite the strictures of Prohibition, the French and Italian teams were allowed to bring in wine for their own consumption in the 1932 Games.

** China with a then population of 400 million, were making their Olympic debut in the 1932 Los Angeles Games, with just one athlete (sprinter Liu Changchun) participating.

** The 1932 Games were held at the Los Angeles Coliseum, which began its construction in 1921 and could accommodate over 100,000 spectators - then the largest stadium in the world.

** For the first time an equipment called - the Kirby Two-Eyed Camera - was used for photo-finish results in the track and field events in the 1932 Games.

** The first result to be reversed after the photo-finish equipment was used was in the 110m hurdles in the 1932 Games. Jack Keller of the USA who had originally won the bronze medal had to hand over his medal to Britain's Donald Finley, when it was found that the latter had just managed to be in front of Keller in the photo-finish. Keller presented his bronze to Finley at the Games village.

** For the first time in the 1932 Games the three-tiered victory stand was introduced.

** For the first time in the 1932 Games the award ceremonies involved the raising of the national flags of the gold, silver and bronze winners respectively.

** For the first time during the 1932 Los Angeles Games the following words were displayed on the scoreboard and at every opening ceremony since. " The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well". The above words have been attributed to Baron de Coubertin, but actually based on the words used by the Bishop of Central Pennsylvania, Ethelbert Talbot, in a sermon at St Paul's Cathedral, London in July 1908.

** For the first time the system of having the referee in the boxing ring was introduced. But it still did not settle arguments in that sport.

** The great Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi was banned from participation in the 1932 Los Angeles under charges of professionalism.

** During the 3000m steelechase event in the 1932 Games the competitors ran an extra lap due to a miscalculation by the lap counter. Fortunately the error did not appear to have altered the final medal placings.

** A minor irritant to all the foreign competitors and spectators during the 1932 Games was the American habit of announcing all the field event results only in Imperial units of measurement.

** The Brazilian water polo team after losing 7-3 to Germany, lost their tempers and insulted the referee. They were subsequently disqualified from the 1932 Games.

** The 18 year-old American athlete Mildred Didrikson who won three medals in the 1932 Games - golds in the javelin and 80m hurdles and a silver in high jump became the only person (male or female) to win medals in individual running, jumping and throwing events. She later went on to become the world's greatest female golfer under her married name of Zaharias.

** Irishman Bob Tisdall had won the gold in the 400m hurdles event in the 1932 Los Angles Games in a world record time. However the record was given to the runner-up Glenn Hardin (USA) since Tisdall had knocked down the last hurdle.

** The first four finishers in the 400m hurdles in the 1932 Games were all gold medallists in the event - Ireland's Bob Tisdall (in 1932), American Glenn Hardin (in 1936), American Morgan Taylor (in 1924) and Britain's Lord Burghley (in 1928).

** American bronze medalist Ralph Metcalfe was inadvertently made to start about 1.5m before the correct place for the 200m final event in the 1932 Games. He declined the offer for a re-run since the first-two places had also gone to the Americans.

** Sweden's Bertil Sandstrom who was placed second in the equestrian dressage competition in the 1932 Games was relegated to the last place for encouraging his horse by making clicking noises. Although Sandstorm claimed the noises were made by a creaking saddle, but the Jury of Appeal was not convinced.

** In the spirit of fair play, British fencer Judy Guinness gave up her hopes for a gold medal in the 1932 Games when she pointed out to officials that they had failed to notice two touches scored against her by her final opponent Ellen Preis of Austria.

** The Indian field hockey team during the 1932 Games set a new record when they defeated the home team, USA, by 24 goals to one with Roop Singh scoring 12 goals!

** The Hungarian water polo team during the 1932 Games set a new record when they defeated Japan 18-0!


Copyright © 2004 India Limited. All Rights Reserved.