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Amsterdam 1928 - Overview

Burning bright

Public support helped Amsterdam host the Olympic Games because Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands was against the event, calling it a "demonstration of paganism." She refused to attend the opening and closing ceremonies.

The ninth Olympic Games marked the first time the Olympic flame burned throughout the event. It also was the first time women competed in track and field events -- the 100-meter, 800-meter, 4x100-meter relay, the high jump and the discus -- despite recommendations to the contrary by IOC founder Pierre de Coubertin.

Germany, which was banned from the 1920 and 1924 Games because of its World War I actions, made up part of the nearly 3,000 athletes from 46 countries. Amsterdam failed to produce a true Olympic star.

In track and field events, Flying Finn Paavo Nurmi won one gold and two silver medals, Canada's Percy Williams surprised in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes, and the Franco-Algerian Ahmed Boughera El Ouafi won the marathon.

Nurmi and Weissmuller swing into action

Flying Finn Paavo Nurmi won three medals in track and field events, including a gold in the 10,000-meter race. Nurmi failed to grab all gold, falling to fellow countrymen Toivo Loukola in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and Ville Ritola in the 5,000-meter race.

Young Canadian athlete Percy Williams made an impression in Amsterdam with victories in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. Finn Harri Larva successfully completed an epic duel with France's Jules Ladoumegue in the 1,500-meter race, and Boughera El Ouafi's win in the marathon left a memorable impression. Originally from Algeria, he gave France an unanticipated gold medal and at the time was the only African to have won a medal in track and field.

American swimmer Johnny Weissmuller was another star of the Games; he added to his medal tally (five in total from the 1924 and 1928 Games) before heading for the bright lights of Hollywood and a career as Tarzan, lord of the jungle, in 1930.

Former IOC president Pierre de Coubertin finally ended his connection with the Games. He played no part in the organization of the Amsterdam Olympics.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.


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