I Olympiad

The Olympic Century

Book 2
Warwick Press Inc.
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Today the Olympic Games is a global spectacle that captures the attention of the entire world and has the power to produce moments of individual courage and triumph that live on forever. But there was a time when reviving the ancient festival of sport was just a dream shared by a handful of dedicated sportsmen led by a determined French aristocrat named Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

The I Olympiad—Athens 1896, the second volume in The Olympic Century series, tells the story of the first modern Olympic Games and the essential role they played in launching the Modern Olympic Movement as it is known today. The book traces the origins of the Olympic revival back to the 17th Century, and follows Baron de Coubertin as he travels the world seeking the moral, political and financial support needed to stage the first Olympiad of the Modern Era. The focus then shifts to the 1896 Games themselves and the colourful assortment of athletes who participated, from the British embassy worker recruited to play tennis to the Danish strongman who participated in seven individual events in four different sports. The book concludes with the towering triumph of Spyridon Louis, the Greek peasant who, by claiming victory for the host country in the first-ever marathon, ensured the survival of the Modern Olympic Movement.

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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Additional Information

Publisher
Warwick Press Inc.
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Published on
Nov 18, 2015
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Pages
225
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ISBN
9781987944013
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Language
English
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Genres
Sports & Recreation / Olympics & Paralympics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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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”.

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”.

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”.

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