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Paris 1900 - Overview

The year of the international exhibition

Dreaming of a huge festival in his own country, Baron Pierre de Coubertin appeared disappointed by the second Games, held in 1900. He had taken over responsibility for the event in Paris, despite Greece's insistence on a permanent site in Athens.

That year, Paris was preoccupied with the International Exhibition, of which the Eiffel Tower had been the showpiece. While the baron wanted to use this event as a springboard, it proved more of a hindrance. With no opening or closing ceremonies, the Games were spread between May 14 and October 28, in indifference and confusion, to the four corners of the capital. De Coubertin later said, "It's a miracle the Olympic movement survived these Games."

Makeshift venues

Competing in makeshift venues, about 1,000 athletes from 24 countries took part in 18 disciplines.

Some were open to women, notably tennis and golf. England's Charlotte Cooper became the first female champion, winning both singles and doubles in the tennis tournament.

The star of these Games was America's Alvin Kraenzlein, who excelled on the track. He set an unprecedented Olympic standard by winning four individual titles in the course of one Games. He collected gold in the long jump, 60-meter dash and both the 110 and 200 hurdles.

As in Athens, the locals laid down the law, walking away with 101 medals (26 gold). But, with help from athletes such as Kraenzlein, it was the Americans who dominated the track and field events.

Despite the presence of the Republic's president, Emile Loubet, at a number of events, these Games were neither grand nor striking.

They wound up as they had started, with little panache and the hope that St. Louis would stage them in 1904.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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