Few cities can boast an Olympic history asrich as London's. When the announcementwas made in Singapore in 2005 that the2012 Games had been awarded to the British capital,it ensured that the city would be adding to its proudand illustrious Olympic heritage. Next year will see London become the first city to host the Summer Games on three occasions -further underlining the city's inextricable link to theOlympic Movement.But the preparations for 2012 could not be moredifferent to the challenges that organisers faced in1908 and 1948. While Sebastian Coe and his team at the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG)have had a full seven years to prepare for the Games,their counterparts in 1908 and 1948 had to workunder very different circumstances. Despite thedifficulties they faced and the hurdles they had toovercome, both the 1908 and 1948 Games weredeemed a success - laying the foundations ofLondon's unique Olympic history, which will becontinued with pride in 2012.50OLYMPIC REVIEWBelowItaly'sDorando Pietri ishelped across theline at the end of the marathonin 1908London 2012OLYMPIC HISTORYCAPITALSUCCESSAS LONDON PREPARES TO HOST ITS THIRDSUMMER GAMES, OLYMPIC REVIEWLOOKS BACKAT THE CITY'S FASCINATING OLYMPIC HISTORYAND REMEMBERS SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTSFROM THE 1908 AND 1948 GAMESLondon Games
OLYMPIC REVIEW51The 1908 Olympic Games had originallybeen awarded to Rome, which had beatenoff challenges from Berlin, Turin and Milanto be named host city in 1904. The Italian city'spreparations were thrown into disarray in 1906,however, when Mount Vesuvius erupted in April,causing widespread devastation to the city of Naples.As the financial implications of the disaster becameclearer, it was evident that a new host would beneeded for the 1908 Olympic Games.With little time remaining before the Games weredue to start, the IOC turned to London and, inNovember 1906, the city took up the challenge oforganising the Games. Despite the short notice,London threw itself into the task with admirable gustoand, for the first time ever, a stadium was builtespecially for the Games. The stadium in London'sShepherd's Bush would become the centrepiece ofthe Games and featured not only a running track, butalso a swimming pool, cycling oval and platforms for wrestling and gymnastics. This would be the first time that Olympic swimmingevents had not been held in open water, allowing fanspacked in to the 66,000-capacity stadium the chanceto cheer on their favourite swimmers like never before.The 1908 Games also saw athletes parade behind their national flags during the Opening Ceremony forthe first time, while Baron Pierre de Coubertin, inspiredAbove right The1908 Games inLondon featured110 eventsacross 22different sports.Archery was oneof the sports inwhich womenparticipatedInsetThe officialprogramme ofthe 1908 Games OLYMPIC HISTORYLondon 2012LONDON 1908Games HistoryLONDON 1908 FACTSNOCs: 22ATHLETES:2,008(37 WOMEN, 1,971 MEN)SPORTS: 22EVENTS: 110by the words in a sermon given at St Paul's Cathedralby the Bishop of Pennsylvania, Ethelbert Talbot, adaptedthose words to create the creed of the OlympicMovement: "The important thing in life is not thetriumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to havewon, but to have fought well."Interestingly, the Games spanned a six-monthperiod, beginning on 27 April and finishing on 31October. Although most events took place in thetraditional two-week period immediately after theOpening Ceremony - which was held on 13 July -several events, such as racquets, jeu de paumeandpolo, were held prior to this, while others, includingrugby, lacrosse and even figure skating, took placelater in the year. Perhaps one of the most memorableevents of the 1908 Games, however, was themarathon, which was extended by 195 metres so thatthe race could start under the window of the nurseryat Windsor Castle and finish in front of the stadium'sroyal box. This new distance of 42.195km wouldeventually become the official length of a marathon.