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Amsterdam 1928 - Overview

Burning bright

Amsterdam hosted the Olympic Games from May 17 to August 12, made possible thanks to public support as the Queen of the Netherlands Wilhelmine was against the event, considering it a "demonstration of paganism".

For the first time the Olympic flame lit up the stadium night and day but Queen Wilhelmine refused to attend the opening ceremony.

The ninth Olympiad in Amsterdam was noted not only for the appearance of the Olympic flame, but for the appearance of women in the athletics events (100m, 800m, 4x100m relay, the high jump and the discus) - despite recommendations to the contrary by baron de Coubertin.

Germany, enforced absentees during the Games in 1920 and 1924, made up part of the 3,000 athletes from 46 countries.

Flying Finn Paavo Nurmi harvested more medals, Canada's Percy Williams surprised in the 100m and 200m and the Franco-Algerian Boughera El Ouafi won the marathon.

Nurmi and Weissmuller swing into action

Despite the addition of two countries since the Games of 1924, Amsterdam failed to produce a true Olympic star.

They did, however, reconfirm the superiority of Paavo Nurmi, who won three medals, including a gold in the 10,000m. Nurmi failed to grab all gold - falling to compatriots Loukola in the 3000m steeple, and Ritola in the 5000m. American swimmer Johnny Weissmuller was another star of the Games - and added to his medal tally (five in total between 1924 and 1928) before heading for the bright lights of Hollywood and a career as Tarzan, King of the jungle in 1930.

Young Canadian athlete, Percy Williams, was among a number of competitors to make an impression in Amsterdam - with victories in the 100m and 200m. The Finn, Harri Larva, successfully completed an epic duel with France's Jules Ladoumegue in the 1500m, while the historic success of little Mohammed Boughera El Ouafi in the marathon left a memorable impression.

Originally from Algeria, he gave France an unanticipated gold medal and was the only African at that time to have won a medal in athletics.

Pierre de Coubertin finally ended his connection with the Games. He played no part in the organisation of the Amsterdam Olympiad.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.


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