XI, XII & XIII Olympiad

The Olympic Century

Book 11
Warwick Press Inc.
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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”.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Warwick Press Inc.
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Published on
Nov 18, 2015
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Pages
537
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ISBN
9781987944105
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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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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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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”.

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 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, were unique in several respects: they were the first Games held outside Europe or North America, as well as the first held in the southern hemisphere. The XVI Olympiad, the fourteenth volume in The Olympic Century series, begins with the story of Melbourne 1956, known as “The Friendly Games”.

The book profiles the heroes of Melbourne, like the 18-year-old Australian sprinter Betty Cuthbert, the “Golden Girl,” who claimed gold in the 100, 200 and 4x100 relay; and the American Bobby Morrow who mirrored Cuthbert’s achievements on the men’s side. There were also unlikely winners, like Ronnie Delany of Ireland, who held off the powerful Americans to claim gold in the 1500 metres. The book also explores how Cold War tensions surfaced in Melbourne in disputes over officiating, and most violently in water polo, where Hungary and Russia engaged in what became known as the “Blood in the Water Match.”

Following Melbourne, the book turns its focus to Squaw Valley, California, and the Winter Games of 1960. Squaw Valley saw the Olympic debut of the biathlon and women’s speed skating, along with technological innovations like artificial ice surfaces, instant replay and results tabulated by computer. The book also recounts the story of the plucky American ice hockey team, made up of college players, which defeated the experienced Canadians and dominant Russians to claim 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”.

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”.
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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