More featuring the Olympic Games

The IV Olympiad of the Modern Era was scheduled to take place in Rome in 1908, but the eruption of Mount Vesuvius two years prior to the Games threw Italy into economic chaos, forcing Rome to withdraw as host. The IV Olympiad, the fifth volume in The Olympic Century series, tells the story of how the city of London stepped up and sustained the modern Olympic movement in a time of crisis.

The book explores how, with typical British resilience, Londoners took on the challenge of planning the world’s greatest festival of sport, in spite of having less than half the normal time to prepare. Scheduled in conjunction with the Franco-British Exhibition, the Games of 1908 were the longest in Olympic history, running from April to October, and featured events like speed boat racing, dueling with pistols and figure skating. Heroes of the 1908 London Games included 60-year-old Oscar Swahn of Sweden who became, and remains, the oldest ever Olympic champion; John Taylor, the first black Olympic medalist; and Dorando Pietri of Italy, who fell five times from exhaustion on the last lap of the marathon but still managed to finish the race through sheer force of will.

The book concludes with the story of Elwood Brown, an American college basketball coach who journeyed to the Philippines to work as an organizer for the YMCA and became a pivotal figure in the growth of sport and the Olympic movement in Asia.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee, called The Olympic Century, “The most comprehensive history of the Olympic games ever published”.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic movement, hoped to cement the future of the Games with a triumphant celebration of the second Olympiad in his native Paris in 1900. The II Olympiad-Paris 1900, the third volume in The Olympic Century series, tells the story of a fledgling movement caught up in the whirlwind of the greatest city of the age at the height of the Belle Epoch.

The backdrop for the book is the decadent Paris of the Moulin Rouge and the Folies Bergeres, the art of Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse and Gauguin, and the revolutionary “Metro” with its now iconic Art Nouveau architecture. The Games would be contested over five months and subsumed into the 1900 Exposition Universelle, a concurrent celebration of art, culture and technology. Alongside typical events like athletics, gymnastics and swimming, The II Olympiad explores unlikely events like auto racing, ballooning and croquet that characterized the Paris Games.

In the wake of the confusion of Paris, the focus of the book shifts to the war for control that would threaten the very survival of the Games. But while the fate of the Games was in doubt, an enterprising Swedish sportsman named Viktor Gustav Balck created an event that would have long-term implications for the Olympic movement. The book concludes with a detailed look at Balck’s Nordic Games, first staged in Stockholm in 1901, and draws a direct line to the ultimate creation of the Winter Olympics, first celebrated in Chamonix, France in 1924.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee, called The Olympic Century, “The most comprehensive history of the Olympic games ever published”.

 Sports activist and writer Mark Perryman presents a sharply critical take on the way the Olympic Games have been organized––and an imaginative blueprint for how they can be improved.

The Olympics are promoted as of great benefit for the host city and nation. The organizers insist that the lasting value of the facilities built, the tourism the Games attract, and the popular participation in sport they promote all make the spending of billions of dollars of public money an excellent investment. Such claims are greeted with near-unanimous agreement across mainstream politics and the media.

But outside the capital’s commentariat, enthusiasm for the Games is less uniform. There are those who remain stubbornly skeptical of boosters’ claims. Economists question whether the Olympics will provide the kind of economic regeneration that has been promised. Sports coaches doubt the linkage often made between Gold medal successes and raising rates of popular participation in sport. And the tourism industry has produced reports showing that previous host cities have experienced an overall fall in visitors and their spending during Olympic years.

In this concise, gripping book, written on the eve of the 30th Olympics in London, Mark Perryman raises major questions about the founding myths of the Games. But Perryman, an Olympics fanatic who measures his life in four-year cycles and has the sticker albums of medal-winners from his youth to prove it, hasn’t come to bury the Olympics; rather he wants to revive them. In these pages he sets out a detailed plan for how the Games can be made more inclusive and exciting to watch.

His proposals include: Extending the games from a single host city to an entire country, or even group of countries; using existing stadia with greater spectator capacity than many of the purpose built facilities; expanding competitions held outside of stadia altogether, with more road, cross-country and open water races; increasing the number of events based on sports like running and boxing where international participation is widespread, and reducing the number of those, such as rowing, fencing and equestrianism, where few countries have the facilities to compete; and shifting the onus of the games from corporate sponsorship to the involvement of community and volunteer groups.



In these ways, Perryman’s dream of reviving the Olympics as a genuinely popular event, a People’s Games, could be made a reality. Why The Olympics Aren’t Good For Us… is sure to prompt widespread debate during a summer when sport will be as impossible to miss as the muscular commerce and timid politics serving it up.


The III Olympiad, the fourth volume in The Olympic Century series, begins with the first Olympic Games held outside Europe – the St. Louis Games of 1904.

The St. Louis Games are set against the backdrop of a much larger concurrent event, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the St. Louis World’s Fair, which featured displays and demonstrations of art, culture and technology from around the world. Despite this distraction, the St. Louis Games still produced its share of memorable Olympic champions. There is the story of the gymnast George Eyser, who won six medals in one day in spite of his wooden leg; the sprinter Archie Hahn, who won three golds and set a record in the 200 metres that would stand for 28 years; and two Tswana tribesmen, in St. Louis for the Exposition, who competed in the marathon and thus became the first black African Olympians.

The focus then turns to Athens 1906, also known as the Intercalated Games, which were held only once. The book tells the story of the American Ray Ewry, who added two golds in Athens to extend his Olympic total to eight from three Games; Billy Sherring of Canada, the unlikely winner of the marathon, who raised the money to travel to Greece at the horse races; and Peter O’Connor of Ireland, who won gold and silver competing reluctantly for Great Britain, then scaled the stadium flagpole to hoist the Irish flag.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee, called The Olympic Century, “The most comprehensive history of the Olympic games ever published”.

In recent decades, five to ten times as many persons have turned out for the Olympic flame relay as have watched Olympic sports contests live. Flame Relays and the Struggle for the Olympic Movement: Bearing Light, the first anthropological analysis of the contemporary torch relay, exposes and interprets the transformation of the ritual across a 25-year period, from Los Angeles 1984 through the IOC’s 2009 announcement that, in the aftermath of the politically contentious Beijing performance, there will be no more global relays. This volume offers a rare case study of continuity and change in a leading transnational and trans-cultural ritual form.

Through data publicly revealed for the first time, the reader is carried fully backstage and into the conflicts and negotiations among Olympic organizing committees, the Greek Olympic movement, national governments, and transnational actors like the IOC, commercial sponsors, and operations management firms. Readers will come to know the leading flame relay authorities and practitioners, gaining a deeper understanding of the Olympic managerial revolution with its characteristic ‘world’s best practice’ language. Analysis of the transnational flow of Olympic operations management offers important corrections to much existing globalization theory by demonstrating both how powerful and how culturally and politically parochial world’s best practices can turn out to be. The dialectic between the cultural performance genres of ritual and spectacle provides a further intellectual architecture for these studies posing the question of whether the Olympic Movement will be able to survive the successes of the Olympic Sports Industry.

This book was previously published as a special issue of Sport in Society.

Beijing 2008: Preparing for Glory - Chinese Challenge in the 'Chinese Century' brings together international scholars with an interest in sport and politics and sinologists with an interest in China - past, present and future - to explore global reaction to the Beijing Olympics - China's anticipated moment of glory on the world stage.

The Beijing Olympics was, first and foremost, a political act of assertion. It was also a statement of national intent, the culmination of ideological effort going back to 1949 and the outcome of political, social, cultural and economic change.

From the moment of the birth of the 'New China' sport has been viewed as a means of internal and external projection illustrating the capacity of the system and people to more than hold their own with those of other nations. In short, sport has been the chosen 'stage' on which the Chinese perform in pursuit of world recognition, respect and esteem.

This assertion is not hard to understand. China's 'century of humiliation' at the hands of first the West and then Japan remains a traumatic experience. Beijing 2008 wass to assist the restoration of China's national self-esteem. He Zhenliang, Chairman of the IOC Commission for the Culture of Olympic Education, has remarked pointedly that the most significant outcome of the Beijing Games will be the elevation of the self-confidence and sense of pride of the Chinese people.

Beijing 2008 was an act of political self-renewal on the world stage.

This Collection demonstrates that sport is inseparable from politics.

This book was previously published as a special issue of the International Journal of the History of Sport.

America in 1904 was a nation bristling with energy and confidence. Inspired by Theodore Roosevelt, the nation’s young, spirited, and athletic president, a sports mania rampaged across the country. Eager to celebrate its history, and to display its athletic potential, the United States hosted the world at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. One part of the World’s Fair was the nation’s first Olympic games. Revived in Greece in 1896, the Olympic movement was also young and energetic. In fact, the St. Louis Olympics were only the third in modern times. Although the games were originally awarded to Chicago, St. Louis wrestled them from her rival city against the wishes of International Olympic Committee President Pierre de Coubertin. Athletes came from eleven countries and four continents to compete in state-of-the-art facilities, which included a ten-thousand-seat stadium with gymnasium equipment donated by sporting goods magnate Albert Spalding. The 1904 St. Louis Olympics garnered only praise, and all agreed that the games were a success, improving both the profile of the Olympic movement and the prestige of the United States. But within a few years, the games of 1904 receded in memory. They suffered a worse fate with the publication of Coubertin’s memoirs in 1931. His selective recollections, exaggerated claims, and false statements turned the forgotten Olympics into the failed Olympics. This prejudiced account was furthered by the 1948 publication of An Approved History of the Olympic Games by Bill Henry, which was reviewed and endorsed by Coubertin. America’s First Olympics, by George R. Matthews, corrects common misconceptions that began with Coubertin’s memoirs and presents a fresh view of the 1904 games, which featured first-time African American Olympians, an eccentric and controversial marathon, and documentation by pioneering photojournalist Jessie Tarbox Beals. Matthews provides an excellent overview of the St. Louis Olympics over a six-month period, beginning with the intrigue surrounding the transfer of the games from Chicago. He also gives detailed descriptions of the major players in the Olympic movement, the events that were held in 1904, and the athletes who competed in them. This original account will be welcomed by history and sports enthusiasts who are interested in a new perspective on this misunderstood event.
Often seen as the host nation's largest ever logistical undertaking, accommodating the Olympics and its attendant security infrastructure brings seismic changes to both the physical and social geography of its destination. Since 1976, the defence of the spectacle has become the central feature of its planning, one that has assumed even greater prominence following the bombing of the 1996 Atlanta Games and, most importantly, 9/11. Indeed, the quintupled cost of securing the first post-9/11 summer Games in Athens demonstrates the considerable scale and complexity currently implicated in these operations. Such costs are not only fiscal. The Games stimulate a tidal wave of redevelopment ushering in new gentrified urban settings and an associated investment that may or may not soak through to the incumbent community. Given the unusual step of developing London's Olympic Park in the heart of an existing urban milieu and the stated commitments to 'community development' and 'legacy', these constitute particularly acute issues for the 2012 Games. In addition to sealing the Olympic Park from perceived threats, 2012 security operations have also harnessed the administrative criminological staples of community safety and crime reduction to generate an ordered space in the surrounding areas. Of central importance here are the issues of citizenship, engagement and access in urban spaces redeveloped upon the themes of security and commerce. Through analyzing the social and community impact of the 2012 Games and its security operation on East London, this book concludes by considering the key debates as to whether utopian visions of legacy can be sustained given the demands of providing a global securitized event of the magnitude of the modern Olympics.
The IX Olympiad, the ninth volume in The Olympic Century series, begins by exploring the Summer Games of Amsterdam, 1928, the first to feature the Olympic flame as well as the first to include track and field and gymnastics competitions for women.

Well established as the world’s greatest festival of sport, the Olympic Games rose to new heights in Amsterdam. The book tells the story of Olympic heroes like Paavo Nurmi, the legendary Finnish distance runner, who claimed one more gold medal in 1928 to take his personal total to nine from three Olympics; and the Canadian sprinter Percy Williams, who claimed the title of world’s fastest man with golds in both the 100- and 200-metres. Amsterdam also saw the triumph of triple-jumper Mikio Oda of Japan, who became the first gold medalist from Asia; and American double-gold swimmer Johnny Weismuller, who would go on to star in Hollywood as Tarzan the Ape Man.

Following the Amsterdam Games, the focus turns to Lake Placid, N.Y., and the Winter Games of 1932. The book tells the story of athletes like American speed-skater Irving Jaffee, who lunged for gold in a thrilling photo finish in the 10,000-metres; Sonja Henie of Sweden, who would claim her second of three consecutive figure skating titles; and American Eddie Eagan, who would add a team gold in four-man bobsleigh to his gold in boxing won in the Antwerp Olympics 12 years earlier.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee, called The Olympic Century, “The most comprehensive history of the Olympic games ever published”.

In the terrible years leading up to and encompassing World War II, the Olympic movement endured a forced hiatus that lasted 12 long years. The London Games of 1948 marked the end of that dark period, and signaled the beginning of a whole new Olympic era.

The XIV Olympiad, the twelfth volume in The Olympic Century series, begins with what were known as the Austerity Games due to post-war rationing. In spite of the banishment of Germany and Japan and the absence of the USSR, the 1948 Games played host to a then-record 59 nations, and were the first Games broadcast on television. The book shines a light on Olympic heroes like Fanny Blankers-Koen of the Netherlands; dubbed “The Flying Housewife”, the 30-year-old mother of two won an incredible four golds in track in London. On the men’s side, the star was Veikko Huhtanen, leader of the dominant Finnish gymnastics team, who claimed three golds, one silver, and one bronze.

In the second part of the book, the focus shifts to Oslo, Norway and the 1952 Winter Olympics, where the star attraction was a local truck driver named Hjalmar Andersen who took three of four gold medals in speed-skating. The West Germans also returned to the Olympic fold, winning both the two- and four-man bobsleigh events, and a diminutive American figure skater named Dick Button performed the first triple jump in international competition to take gold.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee, called The Olympic Century, “The most comprehensive history of the Olympic games ever published”.

The VIII Olympiad, the eighth volume in The Olympic Century series, begins in the most extraordinary of cities at a most extraordinary time: Paris in the 1920s. Now the stuff of legend, it was a place where the likes of Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and Pablo Picasso discussed art and culture in the cafes by day and danced in the jazz clubs long into the night.

Played out in front of this dazzling backdrop, the Games of Paris 1924 created its own legends. Paavo Nurmi, the Flying Finn, cemented his status as the most dominant distance runner of the age, claiming five gold medals in individual and team competition. In the pool, a 20-year-old American named Johnny Weissmuller won three golds in swimming and a bronze in water polo, while also winning acclaim for his chiselled physique. Weissmuller would go on to parlay his Olympic fame into a long Hollywood acting career playing Tarzan the Ape Man.

The focus then shifts to 1928 and the second Winter Olympic Games, held in the luxurious French resort town of St. Moritz. The book paints a picture of exuberant crowds cheering as fearless sledders pilot primitive bobsleighs down the treacherous Cresta run, and urging the Swedish lumberjack Per Erik Hedlund through the slush for close to five hours to win the 50-kilometre cross-country ski race. It also tells the story of a smiling, 16-year-old figure skater from Norway named Sonja Henie, the unrivaled star of St. Moritz, who floated effortlessly between soft spots in the ice to win gold. Like Weissmuller four years earlier, Henie’s Olympic triumph would also lead to Hollywood stardom.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee, called The Olympic Century, “The most comprehensive history of the Olympic games ever published”.

When the modern Olympic movement was launched in Paris in 1894, the goal was to create a global festival of sport that would unite athletes and nations in the spirit of sportsmanship and goodwill. The Olympic movement went on to achieve that lofty goal, but its founders could never have imagined that the Games could be used in equal measure to further mankind’s darkest ambitions.

The XI, XII, & XIII Olympiads, the eleventh volume in The Olympic Century series, begins with the story of perhaps the most controversial Games ever held – Berlin 1936. The volume documents how the Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler tried to use the Olympics as a global stage to demonstrate the might of his fearsome Third Reich and to promote his hateful theories on racial superiority. But flying in the face of Hitler’s propaganda machine, there was the singular triumph of the black American Jesse Owens, the grandson of slaves, who made a mockery of the very idea of a “master race” by dominating the Games with four gold medals.

Following Berlin, the focus of the book shifts to the years just before and during World War II, when summer and winter Olympiads in 1940 and 1944 were sacrificed as the world plunged into darkness. After the war, the question remained whether enough goodwill existed among nations to sustain the modern Olympic movement. But the book ends on a hopeful note in 1948 at the Winter Games in St. Moritz, Switzerland, where a 20-year-old figure skater from Canada named Barbara Anne Scott charmed the crowds with her beauty, grace and precision and reminded the world of what the Olympics can be.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee, called The Olympic Century, “The most comprehensive history of the Olympic games ever published”.

The Olympics are meant to be a celebration of sportsmanship and fellowship among nations, but they have sometimes fell short of that goal. XXII Olympiad, the twentieth volume in The Olympic Century series, begins with the story of one of the most politicized Games ever held: Moscow 1980. In December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, prompting the United States to lead a 65-nation boycott of the Moscow Games. In spite of the absence of many of the world’s great athletes, Moscow still produced legendary Olympic champions, like the great Cuban heavyweight Teofilo Stevenson, who became the first boxer to win three consecutive gold medals; and the Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, who added two golds and two silvers in Moscow to take her personal medal total to 12. The absence of many top athletes also opened the door for others to make history, like sprinter Allan Wells, who won the first gold medal in the 100 metres for Great Britain since 1924. The book then turns its focus to the 1984 Winter Games of Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. It profiles the most dominant athlete of those Games, Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi of Finland, who won all three individual golds in cross-country skiing. Sarajevo also saw the British ice dancing pair Torvil and Dean post perfect scores for artistic impression in their gold-medal performance, a feat never duplicated; as well as the participation of the first black African Olympic skier, Lamine Gueye of Senegal. Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee, called The Olympic Century, “The most comprehensive history of the Olympic games ever published”.
XXV Olympiad, the twenty-third volume in The Olympic Century series, begins with the story of the Barcelona Summer Games of 1992. The Barcelona Games were the first without boycotts since 1972, and played host to a wealth of nations participating for the first time. The book explores how the Barcelona Games reflected a rapidly changing world. With the devolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Barcelona played host to teams from the Baltic States and to a “Unified Team” made up of athletes from the former Soviet republics. The former member states of Yugoslavia participated as independent nations, and South Africa was welcomed back into the Olympic fold for the first time since 1960. The book also profiles heroes of Barcelona like the Chinese diver Fu Mingxia, who became the youngest-ever Olympic gold medalist at age 13; and Vitaly Scherbo of Belarus, who won four golds in artistic gymnastics in a single day. Following Barcelona, the book turns its focus to the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, the first Winter Games not held in the same year as the Summer Games. Lillehammer featured aerial skiing as a full event for the first time, and saw Australia win its first ever Winter Olympic medal. The book also tells the story of the drama swirling around the women’s figure skating competition, where Americans Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding battled with eventual gold-medal winner Oksana Baiul of Ukraine. Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee, called The Olympic Century, “The most comprehensive history of the Olympic games ever published”.
XXI Olympiad, the nineteenth volume in The Olympic Century series, begins with the story of the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal Canada. In the wake of the terrorist tragedy that marred the Munich Olympics four years earlier, Montreal is remembered for the athletic performances of the athletes.

Despite a boycott staged by several African nations to protest the policy of apartheid in South Africa, the Montreal Games produced a bevy of international stars. The book profiles memorable athletes like 14-year-old Nadia Comaneci of Romania, who posted an unprecedented seven perfect-10 scores in winning gymnastic gold; and Japanese gymnast Shun Fujimoto, who performed his final event with a broken knee to help the Japanese team win team gold. Other notable participants in Montreal included decathlon winner Bruce Jenner; Princess Anne of Great Britain, who competed in equestrian events; and racewalker Alex Oakley of Canada, who became the oldest-ever Olympic track competitor at age 50.

The second part of the book focuses on the Winter Olympics of 1980, held in Lake Placid, N.Y. It tells the story of the “Miracle on Ice”, the gold medal victory of the amateur US hockey team over the mighty Soviets, ending a run of hockey golds for the USSR extending back to 1960. Other athletes profiled include American speed skater Eric Heiden, who remains the only athlete to win five gold medals at one Winter Olympics, and skier Hanni Wenzel, who claimed the only two gold medals ever for tiny Liechtenstein.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee, called The Olympic Century, “The most comprehensive history of the Olympic games ever published”.

XXIV Olympiad, the twenty-second volume in The Olympic Century series, tells the story of the 1988 Summer Olympics of Seoul, Korea. The second Olympics held in Asia would be the last for perennial sporting powerhouses the Soviet Union and East Germany, which ceased to exist before the next Olympiad.

The book gives a detailed account of the most infamous episode from Seoul, which saw Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson achieve a dramatic win in the men’s 100 metres only to have his gold medal stripped away for failing a post-race drug test. The book also profiles heroes of Seoul like Christa Luding-Rothenburger of East Germany, who became the only athlete to ever win gold in both Winter (speed skating in Calgary) and Summer (cycling) Games in the same year; and swimmer Anthony Nesty, who won Suriname’s only Olympic medal and became the first male black swimmer to win individual gold.

The second part of the book focuses on the 1992 Winter Olympics of Albertville, France. Albertville was the last Winter Games to be held in the same year as the Summer Games, and mogul skiing, short-track speed skating and women’s biathlon made their Olympic debuts. The book profiles stars of Albertville like 16-year-old Finnish ski jumper Toni Nieminen, who became the youngest ever male gold medalist at the Winter Games; and Annelise Coberger of New Zealand, who won silver in the women’s slalom to become the first Winter Olympic medalist from the southern hemisphere.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee, called The Olympic Century, “The most comprehensive history of the Olympic games ever published”.

XV Olympiad, the thirteenth volume in The Olympic Century series, tells the story of 1952 Summer Olympic Games of Helsinki, Finland. The Helsinki Games were the first for the Peoples’ Republic of China, Israel and the USSR, and set a record for most world records broken at a single Olympics that would stand until 2008.

The book profiles heroes of Helsinki like Bob Mathias of the U.S., who defended his decathlon title from the 1948 London Games; the distance runner Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia, who claimed three golds including the marathon; and Josy Barthel, who became the first and only gold medal winner from Luxembourg with his triumph in the 1500 metres. In team sports, the legendary “Magic Magyars” of Hungary claimed gold in soccer.

The second part of the book focuses on the Winter Olympics of 1956, held in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, which boasted the most events ever held at a Winter Games. With televisions now common in homes in most advanced countries, Cortina d’Ampezzo was also the first Olympics viewed by a wide global audience, boosting the popularity of the Games to a new level. Heroes of Cortina like the Austrian skier Toni Sailer, who swept all three alpine events, became household names, and the world got its first glimpse of the mighty Soviet hockey team, which went on to win five of the next six Olympic gold medals.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee, called The Olympic Century, “The most comprehensive history of the Olympic games ever published”.

The X Olympiad, the tenth volume in The Olympic Century series, begins with the Games of Los Angeles, 1932. With the entire world locked in the depths of the Great Depression, the book describes the thrills of the world’s greatest festival of sport played out against the backdrop of Hollywood’s Golden Era.

With famous movie stars watching from the stands of the legendary Memorial Coliseum, the 1932 Olympics created its own cast of legends. The book tells the story of Babe Didrikson, perhaps the greatest female athlete of the 20th Century, who won two golds and one silver in track and field in Los Angeles before going on to even greater fame as a pro golfer; Kusuo Kitamma of Japan, not yet 15, who became, and remains, the youngest ever Olympic swimming champion; and the American swimmer Buster Crabbe, who won gold in the pool and later went on to Hollywood stardom in the Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon serials of the 1930s and 40s.

Following Los Angeles, the focus of the book shifts to 1936 and the Winter Olympics in Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany, the first to feature Alpine, as well as Nordic, skiing events. Against the backdrop of Hitler’s rising Third Reich, the book follows the exploits of athletes like Sweden’s Sonja Henie as she claims her third consecutive figure skating gold; and the unlikely British ice hockey team, which upset the dominant Canadians in their quest for a fifth-straight Olympic gold.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee, called The Olympic Century, “The most comprehensive history of the Olympic games ever published”.

XXVI Olympiad, the twenty-fourth volume in The Olympic Century series, begins with the celebration of the centenary of the modern Olympic movement at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games. Atlanta played host to a then-record 197 nations, many of which did not exist when the modern Olympics began in 1896.

The Atlanta Games were an Olympics of firsts: they were the first Summer Games since 1920 that were not celebrated in the same year as the Winter Games, and 14 nations would win their first-ever Olympic medal in Atlanta. The book profiles heroes of the Games like sprinter Deon Hemming, who won the first ever gold medal for Jamaica, and the US women’s soccer team, which claimed gold in the first Olympic tournament for women in that sport. Other athletes profiled include Canadian sprinter Donovan Bailey, who won the dramatic 100-metre final in a world record time of 9.84 seconds, then went on to add another gold in the 4x100 relay. The book also recounts the tragic bombing of Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta during the Games that killed two people and injured 111 others.

Following Atlanta, the book explores the 1998 Winter Games of Nagano, Japan. It profiles stars like 15-year-old American figure skater Tara Lipinski, who became the youngest ever Winter Olympic champion in an individual event, and Norwegian cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie, who won three golds to take his personal total to eight from three Games.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee, called The Olympic Century, “The most comprehensive history of the Olympic games ever published”.

The year 1968 is commonly remembered for the massive social and political upheaval occurring around the world at the time, but it was also the year of the Olympic Games of Mexico City. XIX Olympiad, the seventeenth volume in The American Century series, tells the story of one of the most exciting and controversial Olympics of the modern era.

In addition to being the first Olympics held in Latin America, the Mexico Games were also held at high altitude, a factor that likely contributed to the many record-breaking performances. Among these was Bob Beamon’s incredible gold-medal-winning 8.9-metre long jump, a record that would stand for 23 years, and Al Oerter’s fourth consecutive gold medal in discus, a first for a track athlete. In a reflection of the times, the book tells the story of American sprinters Tommie Smith (gold) and John Carlos (bronze) who created the iconic image of the Mexico Games when they famously raised their gloved fists in a black power salute on the medal podium.

The second part the book focuses on the 1972 Winter Games of Sapporo, Japan. Star athletes of Sapporo are profiled, like Galina Kulakova of the USSR, who won three golds in cross-country skiing, and Ard Schenk of Holland, who matched that feat in speed skating. It also tells the story of three Japanese ski-jumpers who became national heroes after sweeping the 70-metre event.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee, called The Olympic Century, “The most comprehensive history of the Olympic games ever published”.

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