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.
52OLYMPIC REVIEWSPORTING HIGHLIGHTS?Italy's Dorando Pietri entered the stadium in firstplace at the end of the marathon, but then collapsed,exhausted. As the officials helped him to his feet hecollapsed again, before eventually being helped overthe finish line. While he was the first to cross the line,he was disqualified for receiving help, although hiscourageous efforts to finish the race ensured he isremembered to this day.?In the spirit of sportsmanship, the middleweightGreco-Roman wrestling final between Sweden'sFrithiof Mårtensson and his compatriot MauritzAndersson was postponed by one day to allowMårtensson to recover from a minor injury. He dulyrecovered and won. ?American athlete Ray Ewry won gold medals in thestanding high jump and standing long jump for thethird consecutive Games. His performances in 1908brought his total Olympic medal tally to eight golds.?Sweden's Oscar Swahn won his first Olympic goldmedal at the age of 60, as he triumphed in therunning deer single-shot event. The next day heclaimed his second gold with victory in the teamevent, while he also earned a bronze medal in therunning deer double-shot contest.?Swimmer Henry Taylor became the first Briton towin three gold medals at a single Games withvictories in the 400m and 1,500m events as well asthe 4x200m freestyle relay. This record for a Britishathlete was not equalled until 2008, when cyclistChris Hoy won three gold medals in Beijing.?American athlete Melvin Sheppard shone on thetrack, winning both the 800m and 1,500m (anachievement equalled by only four other athletes in Olympic history). He also competed in a uniquerelay event, with two athletes running 200m,followed by another who ran 400m and finally afourth who ran 800m. Sheppard ran the last 800mfor the United States team to win his third goldmedal of the Games.London 2012OLYMPIC HISTORYAbove Americanathlete MelvinSheppard wongold in the 800m,1,500m and aunique relay eventRightDutchathlete FannyBlankers-Koenwas one of thestars of the 1948Games, winningfour gold medalson the track