Olympics and History of the Modern Games Italy and Melbourne Australia 1956 Part 2

About the olympics and the modern games, account of the games in Italy and Melbourne, Australia in 1956.


The Australians proved excellent hosts, supplying "superbeds" for the tallest athletes and abundant turkey for Americans on Thanksgiving. Due to Australia's quarantine laws, for the 1st time the IOC allowed an event (the equestrian events in Stockholm) to be held apart from the main games.

Australians were extremely sports-minded, and they had much to cheer about: Betty Cuthbert won 3 gold medals in sprint events and Aussie swimmers were superb. Murray Rose, 17-year-old vegetarian who ate seaweed jelly for pep, set Olympic freestyle records at 400-and 1,500-m.

The scoreboard stated that "Classification by points on a national basis is not recognized," but everyone watched how the Americans and Russians were stacking up against each other. The most obvious rivalry was between U.S. and Russian schoolteachers Harold Connolly of Boston and Mikhail Krivonosov of Minsk, who had taken turns breaking the hammer-throw record that year. The Russian was favored and led until the 5th of 6 throws, when Connolly let go a winning heave.

Connolly escorted Czech discus-thrower Olga Fikotova, a gold medal winner, around Olympic Village and their romance, continued by mail after the games, made headlines when Connolly went to Prague and asked permission of the Czech President to marry Olga and bring her to the U.S. "No force in the world will be able to separate me forever from the girl I love with all my heart and soul," was Connolly's statement. After some delay (the Czechs did not want to lose a champion) and with help from the U.S. State Department, they were married in Prague with Zatopek as best man. Both Connollys were on future U.S. Olympic teams, Harold through 1968 and Olga through 1972.

The Russians piled up huge scores in gymnastics as Larisa Latynina won 4 gold medals and 2 others; and Viktor Churakin 3 golds and 2 others. They won 5 Greco-Roman wrestling titles. Vladimir Kuts won the 2 major distance running events.

The Hungarians gained minor revenge over the Soviets in a bitterly fought semifinal water polo match after a Russian butted a Hungarian, drawing blood. The Hungarians gathered at one end of the pool, apparently to plot retaliation, but the Russians decided to leave the pool and forfeit the match. One observer said they were lucky to get out of the pool alive.

India won 7 straight Olympic field hockey matches, the longest run in a team event.

In platform diving, everyone thought Gary Tobian, U.S., was the best diver--everyone except judges from Russia and Hungary who consistently rated him poorly. Even Mexico's Juan Capilla, the winner, thought Tobian deserved the title

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