Site: Los Angeles, California (USA)
Dates: July 30 - August 14
Total Athletes: 1,408
Los Angeles had nine years to prepare for these Games. Voted as host in 1923,
Los Angeles had already build a stoic Colosseum that could be expanded to hold
over 105,000 fans. LA was able to whether the 1929 stock market disaster with a
1928 passage of the California Olympiad Bond Act, that provided financing
through a government guarantee and loans.
LA proved to be a wonderful host for the games, developing an Olympic Village
that overlooked the Pacific Ocean. The games also marked the first time male
athletes housed together in the Baldwin Hills of LA. However, this created
quite a stir as foes were called to co-habitat with one another leaving
training secrets in jeopardy. Participation was more than half less than what
had appeared in Amsterdam. Even IOC members stayed away for the most part.
One key addition implements by Los Angeles was the
"photo finish" camera to eliminate any controversial decisions made by referees
or officials of each event. It paid dividends immediately, when a review of
the film awarded the winner of a 100-meter track event to Eddie Tolan, after
the scoreboard had tabbed his teammate Ralph Metcalfe the winner.
Another innovation was the awarding of medals to athletes at the end of their
particular event, rather than at the closing ceremonies. The athlete, as is
the case even today, would stand atop a podium to receive their medal. The only
time that did not occur was for those athletes that won events at distant
venues. In that case, those athletes were given their medals at the close of
Another innovation was the juggling of the alphabet for each country so that
rival or hostile countries would not have to enter behind one another. As a
positive, China made its first foray into the Games.
One of the most disappointing aspects of the Games was the expulsion of the
great Finn, Paavo Nurmi, the winner of 12 medals, nine of which were gold.
Apparently, the IOC had uncovered that Nurmi had padded his expense account
while racing that spring in Europe and ruled on the eve of the Games, that he
would be disqualified.
Vice President Charles Curtis opened what would become one of the best Olympics
In track and field, all events registered world records but one, the long jump.
Japanese men dominated swimming events, winning all but one gold medal. The
only non-Japanese winner was American Buster Crabbe. Crabbe won the 400-meter
freestyle and would later go on to notoriety in screen and film as a Hollywood
Another athlete to gain greatness at these Games was a woman, Mildred "Babe"
Didriksen, who won gold medals in the hurdles and javelin and a silver medal in
the high jump despite tying Jean Shiley at a new world record height of 5 feet,
5 1/4 inches. In a subsequent jump-off, Didriksen's style was ruled illegal,
although the jump became legal the next year.
Unlike other Games, spectator appearance was genuinely impressive, treating
foreigners with respect as U.S. guests.
The last of 3000
runners that carried the Olympic torch from Olympia, Greece, arrives in the
Lustgarten in Berlin to light the Olympic Flame and start the 11th Summer
(Courtesy of: Corbis-Bettmann)