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Athens 2004

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The port town of Antwerp, Belgium's second biggest city, was in no real state to stage a sports festival after the ravages of World War One.

The Americans travelled in a rusty old freighter and the competitors were accommodated in school buildings. Persistent rain meant the track was generally unsatisfactory.

With all these problems the Games still featured some great athletes and wonderful performances. Kolehmainen won the marathon but it was another Finn, Paavo Nurmi, who stole the plaudits.

Nurmi lost the 10,000 but went on to win the cross country, gaining a second gold as a member of the winning Finnish team.

Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen, who foreshadowed the iconoclasm of the jazz age with her contempt for convention, lost only nine games while winning the women's tennis title.



** The 1920 Games was awarded to Antwerp to honour the suffering inflicted on the Belgian people during the Great War.

** Central European countries and Russia were not invited to the Antwerp Games, despite objections from IOC president Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

** The Olympic Oath was introduced for the first time at Antwerp. The first oath was taken by Victor Boin, who won waterpolo medals at earlier Games; he gained another in fencing in this edition.

** The Olympic flag was introduced for the first time at the 1920 Games. It was designed by Baron de Coubertin in 1913, based on an ancient Greek artefact, and consisted of five interlaced rings coloured blue, yellow, black. green and red. The rings are meant to symbolise the friendship of mankind, with the colours, including the white background of the flag itself, representing all nations. Every national flag contains at least one of these colours.

** Silver medalist in the 1500m at Antwerp was Philip Baker. In 1959, as Philip Noel-Baker, he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

** Shooter Oscar Swahn from Sweden, at 72 years, 280 days became the oldest Olympic medalist ever,when he won a silver medal.

** Despite suffering polio as a child, American swimmer Ethelda Bleibtrey won three golds, in world record times. The previous year, she had been arrested at home and charged, under local decency laws, with swimming 'nude' at a public beach. All she had done was to remove her stockings.

** French tennis legend Suzanne Lenglen dominated the women's singles event so completely that she lost only four games in the ten sets she played.

** During the soccer final, Czechoslovakia were disqualified for leaving the field after 40 minutes of play in protest at decisions by the British referee. Belgium were leading 2-0 at that point.

** Daniel Carroll completed a unique double in the rugby final when he won his second gold as a member of the US team. He was also part of the victorious Australian team in 1908. He remains one of only two athletes to win gold medals for two different countries.

** American boxer Eddie Eagan, who won the light heavyweight contest, remains the only athlete to gold medals in both the Summer and Winter Games. Twelve years later, he won another gold in the bobsledding event at the Lake Placid Winter Games.

** Philadelphia bricklayer John B Kelly, who won two golds in rowing, was actress Grace Kelly's father. Earlier that year, the American was refused entry in the Henley Regatta in England on the grounds that as a bricklayer he had an unfair advantage over 'gentlemen'. Ironically, after he become a millionaire, his son John Jr won the event at Henley in 1947. John Jr won a bronze in the 1956 Games.

** The 12-foot dinghy yachting event was held in two countries, the only occasion it has happened in Olympic history. The first race was held in Belgium, but the last two races took place in Holland because both participants were Dutch!

** Norway won seven yachting medals in 1920; in five of the events there were no other participants!

** During the 1920 Summer Games, two winter sports, ice hockey and figure skating, were held. It attracted 73 men and 12 women from 10 countries. After its success, it was decided to hold a separate Winter Games. The first-ever Winter Olympics was held at Chamonix in France in 1924.

** Swedish ladies skating champion Magda Mauroy-Julin was three months pregnant during the Games.

** The first Olympic marriage was conducted between American diver Alice Lord and high jump champion Dick Landon after they returned home from Belgium.


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