Great Olympic Cities-Paris
Paris Olympic History
The beautiful city of Paris has the distinction of being the first city to stage two Olympic Games, firstly in 1900 and then again in 1924.
Baron Pierre de Cuobertin was the idealist whose dream led to the modern Olympic Games. He was born in Paris and after a successful inaugural Olympics in Athens he had high hopes for his proud City.
Paris 1900-Not So Great
The Paris Olympics were held in conjunction with the World's Fair and the events took place over several months and were so disorganized that Coubertin himself wondered if the games would survive.
The athletics events were held on a 500 metre grass track laid out on the picturesque Bois de Bolougne . Great scenery it was but the trees hampered the discus and hammer and prevented timekeepers from seeing the starts of some of the races. Inredibly the sprints were downhill.Another fabulous setting the River Seine hosted the swimming events, the current producing some startling times:Fred Lane, 'beat' the world record by 13 seconds in the 200m freestyle.
A great many sports were represented, but organised so hap-hazardly that it was unclear that a unified games was taking place at all.The 1900 Olympics was the first to allow women to compete.
English lawn tennis player Charlotte Cooper became the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal.Chattie had already won the Wimbledon singles three times prior to her Olympic success in the singles at Paris. A second gold followed in the mixed doubles.
The primitive arrangements led to the first American female Olympic champion unaware she had won a gold medal. Margaret Abbot won the ladies golf tournament over nine holes in Paris.Her family only discovered the fact in 1983 after research.Margaret died oblivious to her Olympic Triumph.
The USA once again took the athletics competition seriously and sent a strong team to compete in Paris which they dominated taking home 17 gold medals from the 24 track and field events.
On July 19th the french at last won a race:the marathon. Again a badly organized affair it started at 2:30 in the afternoon in a blazing heat ,after four laps of the track the runners did a circuit of Paris and returned to the stadium.Michel Theato was declared the winner(and as local baker's delivery man was rumoured to have taken some short cuts).Adding to the controversy was American runner Dick Grant who claimed he was knocked over by a cyclist when leading.
France won most medals overall, 101 in total with the most golds, 26. The Great Britain team finished third in the medal table with 15 golds.
It was at the insistence of The Baron de Coubertin that the City of Paris again held the games in 1924. He was nearing retirement and wanted to erase the memory of the poor 1900 Games. Huts were built around the impressive Colombes stadium, foreshadowing the Olympic villages, and set the scene for a superb athletics display.
These Olympic Games were made famous by the film Chariots of Fire and the triumps of British sprinters Harold Abrahams(100m) and Eric Liddell (400m),also boasted another big-screen connection with all-conquering US swimmer Johnny Wiessmuller gaining Hollywood fame as Tarzan.
For many these games were known as Nurmi's Olympics for the extraordinary feats of the Finnish runner who won five gold medals in six days.
Nurmi born in 1897 had already won three golds at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics and was unbeaten over any distance when he arrived in Paris.In 1924 many critics thought even Nurmi had bitten off more than any man could chew. The great man was involved in the final of the 1500m and the 5,000m with an interval of only 75 minutes.With his watch in hand he ran machine like and keeping an even pace won the 1500m in 3 mins 53.6 secs and then set another Olympic record when he won the 5,000m.
The following day Nurmi won his heat of the 3,000 metres team race, then he won the 10,000 m cross-country also leading his country Finland to a team gold. More glory game as once again he wo the 3,000 m team final.
A remarkable achievement from a remarkable runner who racked up an incredible 22 world records.
The US topped the overall medal charts with 45 golds , second with the help of their great middle -distance runners were Finland with 14, just pipping the host nation who accumulated 13.
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