Olympics and History of the Modern Games Austria and Japan in 1964

About the olympics and the modern games, account of the games in Austria and Tokyo, Japan in 1964.


Siberian schoolteachers (Lydia Skoblikova, the 1st athlete, male or female, to win 4 gold medals in the Winter Olympics; and Claudia Boyarski, a cross-country skier) paced Russia to 11 gold medals in 34 events. Skoblikova won all 4 speed-skating events from 500-to 3,000-m. An English toboggan competitor and an Australian downhill skier were fatalities.


Unheralded Billy Mills, a Marine and part Sioux Indian, staged a strong finish and won the 10,000-m. run, a feat never before achieved by an American. (Lewis Tewanima, also an Indian, had finished 2nd in 1912.) In all distances over 1,500-m., it was said, Americans preferred to drive. But 4 days later, Bob Schul ran away with the 5,000-m. title.

Americans won so many track and field titles that the Japanese played an abbreviated version of the "Star-Spangled Banner." One fan, an MGM musician, didn't like that and, seating himself below the torch, finished the anthem on his trumpet.

Al Oerter, U.S. discus star, won his 3rd games title, with a record 200', just 5 days after suffering torn rib cartilages. Lee Calhoun and Glenn Davis repeated their 100-and 400-m. hurdle wins of 1960.

Ethiopian palace guard Abebe Bikila, this time wearing shoes, repeated his marathon victory of 1960. Later, in 1968, after dropping out with an ankle injury, he met with a tragic auto accident which left his legs paralyzed:

It was the will of God that I won the Olympics, and it was the will of God that I met with my accident. I was overjoyed when I won the marathon twice. But I accepted those victories as I accept this tragedy. ... I have to accept both circumstances as facts of life and live happily.

Tamara Press again won the shot put and added the discus title; her sister Irina won the pentathlon, a new event for women. The Soviet defending discus champion was so distressed to finish 5th that, in the tradition of female Olympians, she had her hair cut off.

Americans won 14 gold medals in 36 track and field events, and 16 firsts in 22 swimming events. Don Schollander, U.S., and Dawn Fraser, Australia, were the standout swimmers, Dawn winning her 3rd Olympic 100-m. freestyle.

Basketball, for the 4th straight time, came down to a battle between the U.S. and Russia. Princeton's Bill Bradley and Lucious Jackson led the Yanks to a 73-59 victory.

Russian Vyacheslav Ivanov became a 3-time single-scull champion. Gymnast Larisa Latynina boosted her 3-Olympic medal haul to 17--including 9 gold medals.

New Zealanders were so elated at Peter Snell's victory in the 800- and 1,500-m. runs that they broke into a dance during the closing parade.

This was the last time women could compete without a "sex test." Sprinter Ewa Klobukowska of Poland, 3rd in the 100-m., was later found to have an irregular chromosome count and failed the "sex test" before the European Cup meet.

Tokyo spent a great deal of money on the games and the Japanese hoped for one gold medal in track, but their favorite finished 3rd and suffered so much from his defeat that 2 years later he committed hara-kiri. The Japanese did win 3 out of 4 judo medals, but the giant Dutchman, Anton Geesink, won the coveted open class.

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