Olympics and History of the Modern Games Norway and Finland 1952

About the olympics and the modern games, account of the games in Norway and Finland in 1952.


Hjalmar Andersen, Norwegian truck driver, won 3 distance speed-skating events. Norwegians also won 3 ski events and the team title. Andrea Mead Lawrence, of Vermont, took gold medals in both giant and regular slaloms. Canada won ice hockey for the 6th time in 7 Olympics. Dick Button retained his figure-skating title and performed a complicated triple-spin jump for the 1st time.


Avery Brundage, known as "Slavery Bondage" because of his emphasis on keeping the games as purely amateur as De Coubertin had desired, was elected president of the International Olympic Committee shortly before the games opened.

At the opening ceremonies, Paavo Nurmi carried the Olympic torch into the stadium, lit one torch, and Hannes Kolehmainen, triple winner of 1912, bounded to the top of the stadium to light a 2nd Olympic torch. Ceremonies were disrupted by a woman in flowing robes who appeared to be part of the spectacle until she grabbed the microphone; she was a German student "peacenik."

The Russians entered a team after an absence of 40 years--confident that millions spent on sports programs would pay off in championships and propaganda. They housed athletes not at Olympic Village, but at their Porkkala Naval Base in Finland, where a huge banner portrait of Stalin hung. The Hungarians, not to be outdone, put up an even larger picture of Stalin.

When Horace Ashenfelter, an FBI agent, was the surprise winner over the Russian record holder in the steeplechase, writers had fun: "Communist Trails FBI Man." Russian men did well at Helsinki; their women even better.

Biggest hero of 1952 was Emil Zatopek, the thin Czech who appeared to run in apparent agony. He swept the distance events--the 5,000-and 10,000-m. runs (ahead of a French Algerian, Alain Mimoun, both times). Also, remarkably, he won the marathon, a race he had never run before. Emil called it "a very boring race." Before the race, Emil had asked advice of Britain's Jim Peters, the world's best marathon runner. Then:

After 16 mi., he turned to Peters and said, "We go a little faster, yes?" Peters went faster but there was the Czechoslovak shadow, trotting alongside and saying with a grin, "Don't we go faster?" The psychological effect was shattering. Peters did not even finish the race and Zatopek went on to win in an Olympic record.

In 1948, Zatopek had courted his future wife, Dana, by playing catch with her with a javelin. In '52, Dana Ingrova Zatopek set a world javelin record. The press called them "Czech and double Czech."

Bob Mathias, at 21 a 4-time U.S. decathlon champion and fullback at Stanford, repeated his decathlon victory, this time with ease, smashing the point record set by Glenn Morris in 1936.

Pole-vaulter Bob Richards, known as "the vaulting vicar" because he was a preacher, and shot-putter Parry O'Brien, a repeat champion, were both extremely popular with the Russians.

In unofficial team scoring, the Russians led the U.S. going into the final day. Then 5 U.S. boxers won gold medals to overtake the Soviets. Best among them was a 16-year-old middleweight from Brooklyn, Floyd Patterson.

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