27 January 2012

1904 Summer Olympics St. Louis: III Olympiad

"and we award the games of the 3rd Olympiad to......Chicago!"

Hang on you say why if Chicago in Michigan had been awarded the games did we end up in St. Louis Missouri some 295 miles/475 km away? The reason is that once again the World's Fair was taking place in the same country and the organisers of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition did not want another international event to overshadow their event. They threatened to eclipse the Olympic sports with their own events if the Chicago OGOC (Olympic Games Organising Committee) didn't move them to St. Louis. So Baron Pierre de Coubertin gave in and his games were once again drawfed by the World's Fair and very nearly killed off.

Chicago have subsequently bid to host the games in 1952, 1956 and then again for the next Games in 2016, but have yet to earn the right to hold the Games that they were meant to have been hosting in 2004.

Nations 12 (-12)
Competitors 651 (-346)
Sports 17 (-1)
Events 91 (-4)

1 July - 23 November 1904 St. Louis, Mo, USA

So with once again the games being tagged unto the World's Fair they remained spaced out over a number of months. Just as non-Euopean countries were few at the first two Olympiad so the number of European nations dropped for this one, however the Russo-Japanese war made it difficult for some to get to the USA. Those countries that did manage to take part were (with number of athletes in brackets):

  • Australia (2)
  • Austria (2)
  • Canada (52)
  • Cuba (3)
  • France (1)
  • Germany (17)
  • Great Britain (3)
  • Greece (14)
  • Hungary (4)
  • South Africa (8)
  • Switzerland (1)
  • United States (52)
Therefore our ever present nations Australia, France, Great Britain, Greece and Switzerland sent a total of 21 athletes to this games (their lowest combined total). Only 42 of the events, contained competitors who were not from the USA.

Opening ceremony was a disaster. Held on 1 July and the President of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, David Francis, declined to invite anybody else to open the games. In the end there was a low-key and humdrum opening from a rather disinterested party. 

The games themselves were poorly run and almost ended the eight year old Olympic movement stone cold dead. James Edward Sullivan the organiser of the games tried to hold  sport event on every day of the four and a half months. But yet again this lead to a spread out programme that people and journalists couldn't really focus on.

However, there were new additions to these games. Some of which have remained more or less ever present some of which have faded away.

Oliver Kirk the only man to win 2 boxing golds at one Games
Boxing made it debut with seven weight divisions although all of the 18 boxers in the ring came from the USA. Many of the boxers fought in more than one division, some even managing to medal in more than one. Top of the heap was Oliver Kirk who gold medalled in both Bantam and Feather weight. George Finnegan who won the Fly took silver in the Bantam, a feat repeated by Harry Springer (gold Light and silver Welter) and Charles Mayer (Middle and Heavy). The winning of medals at more than one weight in the same games is a feat that has only been achieved by these four men.

Diving appeared for the first time in St. Louis. With two disciplines the first sound familiar and is the platform, the second was the plunge for distance event, which made its only Olympic appearance. However, the two teams for the platform dive had very different opinions into how the event should run and this led to some bitter disputes.

The Germans felt that only the acrobatic content of the dive should be taking into consideration for marking, not the quality of entry or finish. As a result they would perform well in the air but land belly or back first into the Lake. The Americans had a far more graceful conclusion to their dives attempting to enter perpendicular to the waters surface. German Alfred Braunschweiger initially lost the third place dive off and walked off in a huff. Dr Lewald the Imperial High Commissioner to the World's Fair thus refused initially to provide the statuette to to the winner and George Sheldon the American winner refused to accept his winners reward once the dispute was sorted out and a second bronze was awarded.

The first Olympic Lacrosse champions
The plunge for distance for competition to see how far someone could go from initial dive into the pool without propulsion from arms or legs, face down in the water, see how far they could get in 60 seconds.

Lacrosse made the first of its five Olympic appearances at St. Louis (though the last three as a demonstration sport only). Two teams from Canada (one entirely of Mohawk Indians, the other from the Shamrock Athletic Club) took on a local St. Louis team. In the end the Irish/Canadian Club beat the American's in the final.

A view of some roque courts
Roque as similar mallet sport to croquet replaced it at the 1904 games. Making its only appearance as an Olympic sport. It is played on a raised hard sand or clay surface which is walled. The walls could be used like the cushions of a snooker table to play off. The club that hit the balls had an Octogan head to it. But the aim to hit the ball through a double diamond of arches is very similar to croquet. The sport itself is now obsolete with its governing body ceasing to exist in 1970.

Athletics managed to see it a major controversy and the advent of a new sport.

The controversy came in the Marathon when the first runner to re-enter the Olympic stadium was Frederick Lorz. He had stopped running due to exhaustion after 9 km, then got into the car of his manager until that broke down and then jogged back to the stadium to pick up his kit. As he got there the cheers went up so he ran up to break the tape and was hailed the winner. He was given a life ban but which was later lifted when he apologised saying he never meant to defraud and went on to win the 1905 Boston Marathon. The winner therefore for Tom Hicks, who stopped to walk for part of the course and was given a strychnine shot (now a banned substance) to complete the course. In silver was Albert Corey, who was a French born runner living in new York, but because he had insufficient documentation he is listed as USA not France for his medal, though in the 4 mile mens race the Chicago AA team is deemed to be mixed because of the presence of Corey.

Tom Keily first decathlon gold
The advent though was for the Decathalon. Although the 10 events were a little different from what we know today.

  • 100 yard dash
  • Shot put
  • High jump
  • 880 yard walk
  • Hammer throw
  • Pole vault
  • 120 yard hurdles
  • 56 pound weight throw
  • Long jump
  • 1 mile
Apart from the distance changes to 100m, 110m hurdles and 1500m the modern decathletes thrown a javelin instead of the hammer, a discus instead of the 56 pound weight and take a 400m sprint instead of the 880 yard walk. The first winner was Tom Kiely, he is listed as team GB, however the man from Carrick-on-Suir was a staunch Irish nationalist who had turned down offers both from the British Olympic Committee and a American sponsor to make his way to St. Louis. In the end he made it under his own steam and carried on claiming that he was there to represent Ireland. However, as Ireland was not yet independent the records record him as being British. He was not the first Irishman, nor nationalist, to win an Olympic Gold medal, indeed John Pius Boland in the tennis in 1896 takes that honour. But he was the first to try and vocally make a point of it. Indeed the only other medal won by GB in 1904 was by John Daly from Galway in the 2000m steeplechase.

But the decathlon was an event created for the Olympics and apart from the next games in 1908 it has been a permanent feature in the games ever since.

However, the games though there were notable individual exceptions overall were mediocre as a spectacle. The IOC had to do something to ensure their survival. But more about that next week.

See the full list here.

20 January 2012

1900 Summer Olympics Paris: II Olympiad

Last week was the first in my looks at the various Summer Olympiads in the lead up to the return to London in July to be the first city to host a third Summer Olympiad. Today it is the turn to take a look at the second in Paris, which did not have an opening ceremony. Although seeing as the Olympics started on 14 May and ended on 28 October as part of the World Fair it may explain why.

There were no medals from these games with the winners receiving cups or trophies and professionals were allowed to take part in some sports like fencing.

Nations 24 (+10)
Competitors 997 (+756)
Sports 18 (+9)
Events 95 (+52)

14 May - 28 October 1900 in Paris

As you can see there were new nations and new events joining the growing Olympic movement.

Of the nations the debutants were:

  • Argentina
  • Belgium
  • Bohemia
  • Canada
  • Cuba
  • India
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Spain
As you may notice there are twelve countries on the above list as Bulgaria and Chile who had been represented at the previous games did not send athletes. So we are down already to only 12 ever present nations. There is also a dispute about whether Brazil, Haiti, Iran, Luxembourg and Peru were represented, the IOC records say they were not but some other records say they were there.

With twice as many sports there were more opportunities in different fields.

Archery the IOC lists 6 events as part of the Olympics but there were 8 other events as part of the World's Fair that could just as easily be counted. However as that would have involved 5000 archers it is probably a matter of making the games looklike they were growing that hte 150 who took part in those 6 events are officially counted. Only three nations France, Belgium and Netherlands sent archers.

There were no standardised rules for international archery until 1931 therefore the rules for the event were determined for early archery competitions by the host nation. The European nations tended to base their's on the skills of hunting.

The disciplines were: 
  • Au Cordon Doré  (the Golden Chord) 33m
  • Au Cordon Doré 50m
  • Au Chapalet (The Rosary) 33m
  • Au Chapalet 50m
  • Sur la Perche à la Herse (Perch on the Harrow)
  • Sur la Perche à la Pyramide (Perch on the Pyramid)
Basque pelota made its one and only appearance as an official Olympic sport. It was contested by two teams, hardly surprisingly France and Spain. If consisted of one match and the score is lost to history. However, the Spaniards were victorious.

Cricket surprisingly made made its only Olympic appearance in Paris of all places. It was meant to appear in Athens four years earlier but no teams signed up. In 1900 it almost faced a similar fate when Belgium and the Netherlands withdrew their teams. In the end a touring side the Devon and Somerset Wanderers (Old Boys of Blundell School and Castle Cary CC) took on a team made up of Albion CC and Standard Athletic Club in Paris (teams of expats). Only two of the GB team were deemed to be county standard but they still beat the French Brits by 158 runs.

Croquet appeared in the well known form only once, again in 1900. But it makes Olympic history in being the first Olympic sport to include women in the shape of Mme. Filleaul Brohy, Mlle. Marie Ohnier and Mlle. Desprès took part among the 9 French competitors but did not 'medal'. There was a one ball singles, two ball singles and doubles event to make 3 winners all French. Surprising considering the popularity in English lawns it was only the Belgians that challenged the French.

Equestrian made a debut for horsemanship in 1900. The disciplines were Jumping, High Jump and Long Jump. Belgium won two events outright and a French and Italian rider shared the high jump.

Football made its debut in Paris. Keep it quiet to the Scottish, Welsh and Irish FAs but the first winners were team GB. Well at least in the form of Upton Park FC, although no connection to West Ham United except the name. Although the event was actually two demonstration matches against the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques from Paris against Upton Park and the Université Libre de Bruxelles. The French were therefore the only team to play twice but lost to the British and beat the Belgians.

Women golfers taking part in the 1900 Games
Golf actually went one better than croquet in having a separate Men's and Women's events. It therefore means that Margaret Ives Abbott (USA) became one of the first female Olympic Champions.

Polo along with the other equestrian events was the ball sport of the horsing world, In total there were eight polo events held as part of the World's Fair but it is only the Grand Prix Internationale de l'Exposition that counted as a medal event. Like the football and cricket it was a club event rather than an international. Unlike those two however it resulted in two Englishman, an Irishman and an American taking the gold for the Foxhunter's Club beating another GB/USA mixed team in the final.

Eights on the Seine
Rowing also made it's Olympic debut on the River Seine with four diciplines, single sculls, coxed pairs, fours and eights. Strong winds had prevented the event making an appearance in 1896. A four lane course was laid out, but this led to controversy in the coxed fours event when six crews were put through to the final. This came after protests that the winners of the three semi-finals plus only the runner up of semi final three were to go through. In the end when the final was scheduled the original qualifiers boycotted the event so other crews rowed again in the final. However, the officials deciding to hold a second 'final' for the boycotting crews, both are officially recognised as Olympic event and there are two sets of medals awarded in that event. However as the second final contained the winners or the semi-finals it means that the unbeaten crew of the Germania Ruder Club Gustav Goßler, Oskar Goßler, Walter Katzenstein,Waldemar Tietgens and (cox) Carl Goßler are probably the real champions.

Surprisingly considering its history in the sport GB only sent one sculler to the event.

France v Germany in first Olympic Rugby match
Rugby Union made a debut  in Paris for the first of its four appearances at the games. While the hosts fielded the national squad, Germany were represented by  FC 1880 Frankfurt and GB by Moseley Wanderers. Moseley had played a full game in England the day before their match in Paris against France and then returned straight away to England. In the result just two games were played both won by France and Germany and GB both received a silver medal.  Rugby holds the distinction of being the first sport to award a gold medal to a black Olympian as Franco-Haitian Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera was part of the winning team.

Rugby will actually be returning as a sevens event in the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro.

Sailing another of the Olympic perennials that made it's debut at Paris, or rather Le Harve. Like rowing it had failed to appear in the first games as scheduled. So the first medals were awarded in classes that were handicapped on time based on the tonnage of the yachts. In the end GB won 3 golds, France 2, Switzerland and a Mixed (France/GB) team one apiece.

Charlotte Cooper first female Olympic Champion
Tennis made it debut a a little Olympic history on 11 July when Charlotte Cooper already three time Wimbledon won in both the singles and mixed doubles. The men's singles semi-finals saw four British men contesting the medals. Between them they would eventually take 10 Wimbledon singles titles, the winner Lawrence Doherty was the rising star, who would win five consecutive from 1902-1906, he beat the old hand   and Scottish born 1896 Champion Harold Mahony, the beaten semi-finalists were Laurie's elder brother and 1897-1900 Wimbledon Champion Reginald and Arthur Norris. Sadly of the three Wimbledon Champions all three were dead by 43, the Doherty brothers had respitory problems which led to them taking up the sport and Mahony died in a motorcycle accident.

However, with the Doherty brothers taking the men's doubles and Reginald partnering Charlotte to the mixed doubles GB took all four of the competitions on offer.

Tug-o-War saw that man Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera win the first medal by a black Olympian, three months before the Rugby Union triumph. However, three of the USA team were taking part in the hammer at the same time as the competition so only two teams took part. France losing to a combined team from Denmark and Sweden.

Water Polo the pool saw the arrival of water polo to the games without a Hungarian team who dominate this event through Olympic history. In the end it was another triumph for GB with a team that scored 29 goals and conceded 3 through the knock out tournament. As a omen of things to come this was also the first time a Coe won Olympic gold as a Thomas Coe was part of the Osborne Swimming Club team that dominated this event.

There were some changes to other events that were mentioned in the 1896 post, weightlifting became an element in a 16 element gymnastics competition. In Athletics the hammer was added, as were standing jumps for the three disciplines, the 110m, 200 and 400m hurdles, two steeplechases over 2500m and 4000m, a 60m sprint, the 200m and a 5000m team race (like cross country adding the places for a lowest point score to win). Cycling saw just a 2000m sprint and the 25km race in the home of cycling, however 25km champion Louis Bastien also took part in the épée.

Being part of the World's Fair there were other sporting events taking place including kite flying, cannon shooting and motorcycle racing but these are not recognised by IOC.

See the full list here.

13 January 2012

1896 Summer Olympics Athens: I Olympiad

Over the Fridays between now and the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Games I'll be taking a little look at the summer Olympiads that have gone before.

Nations 14
Competitors 241
Sports 9
Events 43

6-15 April 1896 in Athens, Greece

So to kick off it is back in 1896 to Athens where Baron Pierre de Coubertin vision which he first had in 1889 to revive the ancient Greek idea of an Olympics. He wasn't the first as Thomas Arnold head of Rugby School had first come up with the idea of the Much Wenlock games (after where one of the London 2012 mascots gets its name) in 1850.

  • The original Olympic nations were Greece (the hosts)
  • Australia (although not independent until 1901 the 800m and 1500m golds of Edwin Flack are listed for them)
  • Austria (although part of the Austira-Hungary empire their results are listed separately)
  • Bulgaria (they claim that the Swiss born gymnast Charles Champaud who was living in Bulgaria was competing for them)
  • Chile (who had one athlete Luis Subercaseaux in the 100, 400 and 800m)
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Great Britian and Ireland
  • Hungary (as with Austria above, but also including athletes from Vojvodina, now Serbia, in their team results)
  • Italy (although their most prominent athlete Carlo Airoldo was deemed professional and excluded they also had a shooter Rivabella)
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United States of America
As you can tell from some of the above comments there was little organisation as such. Indeed some of the olympians happened to be in Europe and turned up to take part.

The sports were:

Contestants lines up for the 100m
Athletics with 12 events
  • 100m (when Francis Lane (USA) won the first heat on day one he became the first Olympic winner he came 3rd in the final)
  • 400m
  • 800m
  • 1500m
  • 110m hurdles
  • Marathon (a debut event of 40km from Marathon to the Olympic Stadium)
  • High Jump
  • Pole Vault
  • Long Jump
  • Triple Jump (James Connolly (USA) on winning became the first modern Olympic Champion)
  • Shot Put
  • Discus (part of the ancient games but never before part of an international competition)
USA won 9 of the Silver Medals (for winning), Australia 2 and Greece only the Marathon.

Paul Masson on the darker kit with compatriot Léon Flameng
Cycling had 6 events mostly contested at the velodrome.
  • Road Race (87km)
  • Sprint (2km)
  • Time Trial (1/3km once around the track)
  • 10km
  • 100km
  • 12 hour race
There were only 19 cyclists from 5 countries taking part with 4 wins for France (three of which were by Paul Masson, the other to Léon Flameng), 1 each for Greece and Austria.

Fenching held three events in sabre, foil and masters foil and the spoils were 2 for Greece, 1 France.

Carl Schuhmann taking part in the vault
Gymnastics comprised a total of eight events (the first five are familiar, the last two are now part of the team overall)
  • Horizontal bar
  • Parallel bars
  • Pommel horse
  • Rings
  • Vault
  • Rope climbing ( to climb a height of 14 m (only achieved by 2) with style and time deciding factors to split equal heights)
  • Team parallel bars
  • Team horizontal bar
Germany won five of the events, Greece 2 and Switzerland the remaining one.

Shooting  comprised 5 events 
  • 200m miltary rifle (Greece filled the top 5 places)
  • 200m free rifle
  • 25m miltary pistol
  • 25m rapid fire pistol
  • 30m free pistol
Greece won three of the events with USA winning the other 2.

Swimming all the events took place in the open sea at the Bay of Zea
  • 100m freestyle
  • 500m freestyle
  • 1200m freestyle ( the final race and Alfréd Hajós (Hun) who won the 100m and Paul Neumann (Aut) who won the 500m both entered with mixed results. Hajós won and Neumann DNF)
  • 100m sailors freestyle ( this was only open to sailors in the Greek navy and the winning time was 1 minute slower that the open event)
Winners Hungary 2, Austria 1 and Greece one for a Greek only event.

Tennis had only men's singles and men's doubles. John Boland of Great Britain won both the doubles with Friedrich Traun of Germany.

Weightlifting was still a young event in 1896 and the rules are different from today so there was the one handed and the two handed lift. Launceston Elliot of GB won the one handed and Viggo Jensen of Denmark the two handed, with each man coming second in the other event.

Wrestling there were no weight classes back in 1896 just one open Greco-Roman event won by German Carl Schuhmann who also took part in the Gymnastics (see above). Schuhmann is actually the smaller of the two men in the picture (left).

So there you have it the nations and sports that first graced the Olympics. Some recognisable some very different to the sports we know today.