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”.