Americans Win First Olympic Basketball Competition.
Basketball made its debut as an Olympic sport at the 1936 Games in Berlin. On August 14, 1936, the U.S. won the Gold Medal, defeating Canada 19-8. The championship game was played outdoors in similar fashion to all the other basketball games of the Berlin Olympics. The “Master Olympic Planners” hadn’t gotten the memo that basketball was an indoor sport. They set the games on a clay tennis court, which made for less than ideal conditions. On the day of the gold medal round, it not only rained, it poured.
The U.S. began with a forfeit victory over Spain, whose team had been called home because of the start of the Spanish civil war. The Universal players trounced Estonia 52-28 in the second round, and the McPherson platoon followed with a 56-23 victory over the Philippines. A 25-10 U.S. triumph over Mexico in the semifinals set up a gold medal encounter between Naismith’s native Canada and his adopted U.S. Unfortunately, it turned out to be what Balter later described as “a priceless bit of Chaplinesque comedy.”
Read more: Sports Illustrated
The AP noted that “the game might have been better played had it been played under water polo rules”.
Basketball’s inventor, Dr. James Naismith attended the 1936 Olympics. The Boston Globe reported that “he made the trip on funds provided by American basketball fans.” However, Naismith was not exactly treated like a guest of honor by the American Olympic Committee, headed by Avery Brundage. Apparently, Naismith arrived in Berlin without even a pass to see a game. The International Basketball Federation showed the old professor a little more respect. He was given the honor of tossing up the ball for the tip off of the very first Olympic basketball game, between Estonia and France (won by Estonia 34-29). Also at the end of the competition it was Naismith who handed out the medals to winning teams.
Records are meant to be broken, but with respect to the record for the most Olympic Gold Medals won by an individual, it might have been more correct to say that “records are meant to be tied”. That’s what the Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina did in 1964 when she won her ninth gold medal in 1964, equaling the record of Paavo Nurmi (“The Flying Finn”) who won his ninth Gold Medal in 1928. Swimmer Mark also Spitz joined the “Nine Gold Club” in 1972, and he was followed by track star Carl Lewis, in 1984.
Then on August 13, 2008, Michael Phelps reminded the world that records really are meant to be broken. On that day in Beijing, Phelps swam his way to his 10th and 11th Olympic Gold Medals.
He started working on his Gold Medal collection at the Athens Olympics in 2004. He bagged six of them there. In Beijing in 2008, Phelps also bested Spitz’s record for most Gold Medals won in a single Olympics. He came home from Beijing with eight. Spitz won seven in Munich, 1972.
By the end of the 2008 Olympics, Phelps had won 15 Gold Medals, but he wasn’t finished. He won three more at London in 2012, running his total up to 18.
BEIJING, Aug. 13 — Perhaps the measure of where Michael Phelps now stands — not only in the history of the Olympics, but in the history of athletics — is that he can pull off an unprecedented feat and have disgust wash over his face. Following his performance Wednesday morning — two more races, two more gold medals, two more world records, cue the yawns — Phelps couldn’t escape the idea that even a swim others couldn’t imagine can be flawed.
“I couldn’t see anything for the last 100” meters, he said. “My goggles pretty much filled up with water.”
Read more: Washington Post
US swimmer Michael Phelps broke the record for Olympic gold medals won by taking his 10th and 11th in a double victory on Wednesday.
Phelps, 23, won his fourth gold of the Beijing Olympics and 10th of all time with victory in the 200m butterfly.
And he claimed yet another gold as part of the US 4x200m freestyle team.
Phelps has now surpassed the nine golds won by Paavo Nurmi, Carl Lewis, Mark Spitz and Larysa Latynina to cement his place in Olympic history.
Right before he dove into the pool the morning of Aug. 13, Michael Phelps got a text message from one of his buddies back home. “Dude, it’s ridiculous how many times a day I have to see your ugly face,” it read. At the end, his friend left simple instructions. “It’s time to be the best ever.”
Phelps complied. At the Beijing Water Cube around 10:30AM, Michael Phelps swam two races, and won more gold medals. He broke two more world records, and got himself a new title: the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time.
Read more: Time.com
The Women’s 3,000 Meter run made its debut at the 1984 Olympics, in Los Angeles. Much attention was focused on the race because one of the favorites, Zola Budd, was born and raised in South Africa. In January of 1984, the 17-year-old Budd, running barefoot in Stellenbosch, South Africa, broke Mary Decker’s world record in the 5,000 meters. Budd’s time was not recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) because she was a South African. South Africa at the time was excluded by the IAAF and the International Olympic Committee, because the ruling National Party was still enforcing its official policy of Apartheid.
After “breaking” Decker’s record, Budd dreamed of testing against herself against her idol, Mary Decker. With the political situation in South Africa however, any side by side competition with Decker was not even a remote possibility. However, Frank Budd, Zola’s father, had other ideas. Frank Budd’s father was born in London. That meant that he was eligible to receive an Brittish passport. So thinking that perhaps Zola could compete in the 1988 Olympics, he applied
Then the media/political circus began. David English, editor of The Daily Mail got wind of the story. He made a few phone calls, some strings were pulled, and ten days later Zola Budd had an Brittish passport and was eligible to run for Great Britain at the LA Olympics.
While Budd had the more interesting, controversial story, Decker was still the prohibitive favorite to the gold medal in the 3,000. In 1983 she won both the 1,500 and the 3,000 at the World Championships in Helsinki. In 1982 Decker set six world records at distances ranging from the mile to 10,000 meters.
At the start of the Olympic final Decker broke into the lead. For the first four laps Decker led the race, but Budd was never more than a half stride behind her. Then just before the five minute mark, Budd passed Decker. Seconds later, Decker tripped on Budd’s heel, fell off to the side, and was out of the race.
Then it was a three woman race among Budd, Romanian Marica Puica and the UK’s Wendy Sly.They ran together in a pack until the last lap when they lost Budd, who fell back and wound up in seventh place. Puica won the Gold Medal. She had a comfortable lead at the finish, ahead of Silver Medalist Sly.
Jesse Owens won his fourth gold medal at the 1936 Olympics on August 9, 1936. He ran the first leg for the U.S. team in the 4×100 meter relay. Prior to his participation on the relay team, Owens was already “the big story” of the 1936 Olympics (at least among the athletes), having won the the long jump, as well as the 100 and 200 meter individual sprints.
As if there wasn’t enough controversy surrounding the 1936 Olympics, Owens and his relay teammate Frank Metcalfe (They were among the 18 African American athletes that Hitler referred to as America’s Black Auxiliaries.) were named at the last minute as replacements for two Jewish sprinters, Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller. Until a day before the race, it was assumed that the relay team would be comprised of Glickman, Stoller, Frank Wykoff and Foy Draper. Owens and Metcalfe hadn’t even been involved in any baton passing practices. U.S. track coach Lawson Robertson claimed that he feared that the Germans were hiding their best sprinters in order to upset the U.S. in the relay, and that he had to use Owens and Metcalfe in the race. Owens and Metcalfe had in fact, run faster times in the 100 meters than Glickman and Stoller. On the other hand, Lawson’s concern about “stealth German sprinters” seems dubious. Even in 1936, world class sprinters did not appear out of thin air. As it turned out, the U.S. team ran away from the field, winning the race by 15 meters. Unless they tripped, with Stoller and Glickman running, the U.S. would have probably still won, although perhaps with a smaller lead at the finish.
Marty Glickman speaking about his experience.
I was always aware of the fact that I am a Jew, never unaware of it, under virtually all circumstances. Even in the high school competitions, and certainly at college and for the Olympic team, I wanted to show that a Jew could do just as well as any other individual no matter what his race, creed, or color, and perhaps even better.
The Olympic stadium itself is a very impressive place. It was particularly impressive then, filled with 120,000 people. When Hitler walked into the Stadium, stands would rise, and you’d hear it in unison, “Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil,” all together, this huge sound reverberating through the stadium.
Everyone seemed to be in uniform. As for banners and flags, they were all over the place, dominated by the swastika. The swastika was all over. On virtually every other banner we saw, there was a swastika. But this was 1936, this was before we really got to know what the swastika truly meant.
There was antisemitism in Germany. I knew that. And there was antisemitism in America. In New York City, I was also aware of the fact that there were certain places I was not welcome. You went into a hotel, for example, and you’d see a small sign where you registered which read “Restricted clientele,” which meant, in effect, no Jews or Blacks allowed.
The event I was supposed to run, the 400-meter relay, was one of the last events in the track and field program. The morning of the day we were supposed to run in the trial heats, we were called into a meeting, the 7 sprinters were, along with Dean Cromwell, the assistant track coach, and Lawson Robertson, the head track coach. Robertson announced to the 7 of us that he had heard very strong rumors that the Germans were saving their best sprinters, hiding them, to upset the American team in the 400-meter relay. Consequently, Sam Stoller and I were to be replaced by Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe.
We were shocked. Sam was completely stunned. He didn’t say a word in the meeting. I was a brash 18-year-old kid and I said “Coach, you can’t hide world-class sprinters.” At which point, Jesse spoke up and said “Coach, I’ve won my 3 gold medals [the 100, the 200, and the long jump]. I’m tired. I’ve had it. Let Marty and Sam run, they deserve it,” said Jesse. And Cromwell pointed his finger at him and said “You’ll do as you’re told.” And in those days, Black athletes did as they were told, and Jesse was quiet after that.
Watching the final the following day, I see Metcalfe passing runners down the back stretch, he ran the second leg, and [I thought] “that should be me out there. That should be me. That’s me out there.” I as an 18-year-old, just out of my freshman year, I vowed that come 1940 I’d win it all. I’d win the 100, the 200, I’d run on the relay. I was going to be 22 in 1940. I was a good athlete, I knew that, and 4 years hence I was going to be out there again. Of course, 1940 never came. There was a war on. 1944 never came.
Babe Didrikson won a silver medal in the Women’s High Jump at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. She actually cleared the same height as the gold medalist, her American teammate and rival, Jean Shiley (5′ 5.25″), however in a bizarre ruling, the judge said that Didrikson’s leap was illegal. Apparently the judge didn’t think that any of her prior jumps were improper, or she would have been disqualified earlier and would not have been able to win any medal at all.
Grandland Rice in the New York Times attempted to explain:
The bar was moved back to 5 feet 5 1/4, inches. Miss Shiley cleared easily at this new mark. So did Miss Didrikson. But suddenly the presiding judge ruled that the Texan had violated the rule against diving across.
The rule demands that the head follow the hands and feet across the bar, Miss Didrikson had been jumping with a whirl and a flip that sent her head downward after clearing the bar. Up to this point no warning had been issued and as far as anyone could see she had not changed her style in the slightest. It she was out of line on this last jump, she should hove been warned before. It was another of those queer rulings or decisions that have occurred for too often in these games. I had a long talk with the Babe after the event was over. “I have jumped that way all the time,” she said. “I have kept the same style through an A.A.U. Championship, I know I never changed today, but I have no kick to make, It is OK with me. Miss Shiley is a great high jumper. I’d like to say this—when you get up to 5 feet 5% inches you are getting up in the air. I felt like I was jumping aver a mountain. And I don’t mind telling you I’m a little tired.”
Didrikson was known to be a fierce competitor, so it’s unlikely that she would have been so blase about her second place finish if she had not already won two gold medals at the Los Angeles Games. On July 31 she won the Javelin. Then on August 4 she took the Gold in the 80 meters hurdles.
Joan Benoit was the winner of the the gold medal in the marathon at the 1984 Olympics. It was the first time in Olympic history when women competed in that event. The Men’s Marathon has been a part of the modern Olympics since its inception in 1896.
That’s not to say that women hadn’t tried to compete in the Olympic Marathon.
Women had been forbidden from participating in the ancient Olympics. A woman who was caught even as a spectator at the Games could face execution. But women in ancient Greece held their own festival to honor the goddess Hera every five years. Only one athletic event was held-a short footrace.
When the Olympics were revived in 1896, women were again excluded. But, in March of 1896, Stamatis Rovithi became the first woman to run a marathon when she covered the proposed Olympic course from Marathon to Athens. The following month, a woman named Melpomene presented herself as an entrant in the Olympic Marathon. Race organizers denied her the opportunity to compete. Undiscouraged, Melpomene warmed up for the race out of sight. When the starter’s gun sounded, she began to run along the side of the course. Eventually she fell behind the men, but as she continued on, stopping at Pikermi for a glass of water, she passed runners who dropped out of the race in exhaustion. She arrived at the stadium about an hour and a half after Spiridon Louis won the race. Barred from entry into the now empty stadium, she ran her final lap around the outside of the building, finishing in approximately four and a half hours. One Greek newspaper wrote that the Olympic organizers were discourteous to disallow Melpomene’s entry into the race, but nonetheless it would be nearly a century before another woman would run the Olympic Marathon. Read more Marathonguide.com
Benoit won her gold medal posting a time of 2:24:52, which was then the third fastest Women’s Marathon ever run. Her time would have beaten 13 of the 20 previous Men’s Olympic Marathon gold medalists. Paula Radcliff set the current Marathon record on April 13, 2003. She ran the race in 2:15:25.