XIV Olympiad

The Olympic Century

Book 12
Warwick Press Inc.
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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”.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Warwick Press Inc.
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Published on
Nov 18, 2015
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Pages
550
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ISBN
9781987944112
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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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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”.

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