Antwerp 1920 Olympic Games
Antwerp 1920 Olympic Games - VII Olympiad
1920 saw a repeat of the first Olympiad, when doves were released to symbolise peace between the nations. Incidentally, the VI Olympiad was cancelled due to WW1.
Finland usurped the American dominance on the track thanks to Koiehmainen and the legendary Paavo Nurmi who won three medals, two gold and one silver, at the start of his illustrious Olympic career.
The 1920 Olympic Fencing Tournament was dominated by Italy. This country won five Olympic fencing golds -individual foil, team épée, team foil, individual saber, team saber. Italy's Nedo Nadi was elected the best fencer.
Meanwhile, Ethelda Bleibtrey of the United States won gold medals in all three women's swimming contests. She swam in five races and broke the world record in every one. Elsewhere, American diver Aileen Riggin became the youngest gold medal winner at just 14 years and 119 days.
At age 72, Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn earned a silver medal in the team double-shot running deer event to become the oldest medallist ever. The 1920 12-foot dinghy sailing event was the only event in Olympic history to be held in two countries. The first race was staged in Belgium, but the last two races took place in the Netherlands because both entrants were Dutch.
South America claimed their first gold medal in 1920 when Guilherme Paraense of Brazil won the rapid-fire pistol event, whilst Willie Lee and Lloyd Spooner of America celebrated four and five golds respectively.
Suzanne Lenglen (FRA-tennis), one of the greatest women tennis players of all time, won the Olympic title by losing only four games. She teamed up with Max Decugis (FRA) to win another gold medal in mixed doubles and with Elisabeth d' Ayen (FRA) to win a bronze in women's doubles.
Olympic Games Trivia
Great Britain's Philip Noel-Baker won silver in the 1500m in Antwerp, and later went on to become an MP. In 1959, he became the only Olympian to ever be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Antwerp saw the birth of the famous Olympic flag made by interlocking five circles. The idea was to represent the unity and friendship of the human race. This was the first games where one of the athletes took the Olympic oath-uttered, the honour in Antwerp fell to the Belgium fencer Victor Bion.
For over 50 years there was an unsolved mystery concerning the whereabouts of the original Olympic flag presented to the IOC by the city of Antwerp, Belgium, following the closing ceremony of the 1920 Olympics. Then in 1977 at an Olympic Committee banquet a reporter asked Haig "Hal" Prieste, a bronze medalist at the 1920 Olympics in platform diving, about the stolen Olympic flag. Prieste stunned the reporter with the reply, "I can help you with that, it's in my suitcase."
Perhaps if they had called-in that famous Belgian detective Hercules Poirot, he would have deduced that American swimmer Duke Kahanamoku was behind the jape to climb the flagpole and take the flag. At a special ceremony at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia Prieste, then 103, returned the Olympic flag. You can now see it at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland; there is a plaque thanking Prieste for returning it.
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