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Greatest Summer Olympian IX: LA 1932



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The 1932 Los Angeles games are arguably the first summer Olympics which set in place most of the patterns and procedures of the Olympics as we know them now. An Olympic village for all male athletes, medal ceremonies were formalised, automatic timing was instigated for track events and finally the games ran for 16 days...the current time frame. Also, considering the extent of the Great Depression at the time the games were a modest financial success, and also saw some great sporting achievements.

Of the candidates in this poll Didrikson, Tolan and maybe Madison have the highest profile. Mildred 'Bebe' Didrikson qualified for 5 events in the women's athletic's programme, but was only able to compete in 3, for a total of 2 gold and 1 silver. She latterly became a champion golfer and was named in 1950 as the AP greatest female athlete of the century.

Eddie Tolan was the first black American to win the sprint double at the Olympics, initiating the tradition latterly followed by the likes of Jesse Owens and Carl Lewis; unfortunately he didn't run in the 4x100m relay which surely would have given him a 3rd gold. Helene Madison was undoubtedly the world's best female swimmer of the early 30s, setting records akin to Shane Gould's 40 years later, over every distance up to 1500 metres.

As for the other poll candidates, Romeo Neri was all round men's gymanstic champion and finished with 3 golds in total, Jack Beresford won the second of his 3 overall golds (plus 2 silvers) in LA, Patrick O'Callaghan successfully defended his hammer title from Amsterdam, and Ivar Johansson won gold in both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrsetling.

beresford_gal_l_02.jpg Jack Beresford

ocallaghan_gal_l_04.jpg Patrick O'Callaghan

tolan.jpg Eddie Tolan

didrikson_gal_l_02.jpg Babe Didrikson

madison_gal_l_02.jpg Helene Madison

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  • 2 weeks later...
So when do we get Berlin '36? Though I guess it may not be worth the effort _ it's obvious that Jesse Owens is going to be a slam dunk for that one!

I was thinking of either holding off on Berlin 36 until after the Singapore vote, or as you say just throw up my hands and say Jesse Owens hands down. If anyone has some thoughts as to when I should run the 36 poll let me know...I can get it up and running no probs.

PS I haven't forgotten about the video Roltel...just waiting for a chance to get all the tape-to-tape gear sorted

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wait...I just voted New Yor...errr on this.  You gotta count my vote!!

Also, you forgot and I can't find any footage of it -- but it seems the 1932 Opening including some Hollywood musical-style numbers, so very much a primitive precedent to what happened on a grander Technicolor scale 52 years later.  I wish there were even a few shots of the 1932 Opening frou-frouery.

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