1920 Summer Olympics, Antwerp

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This year’s London Games commence on July 27 and end on August 12. In the run up to London 2012, Tony Matthews reveals the history of the sixth Summer Olympics held in Antwerp in 1920.

THE 1916 Summer Olympics were scheduled to take place in Berlin but were cancelled due to the Great War.

Four years later the city of Antwerp was handed the event, in honour of the thousands of Belgians who had suffered during the hostilities.

Initially Budapest had been the chosen venue but Hungary, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria and Turkey were all banned from competing in the 1920 Games.

Fact File

* The Olympic Games ran from 20 April to 12 September. A total of 2,626 athletics from 19 countries took part in 154 events, covering 22 different sports.

* These summer games were the first in which the Olympic oath was voiced, the first in which doves were released to symbolize peace, and the first in which the Olympic flag was flown above the stadium.

* The USA, with several top-class performers, won 95 medals (made up of 41 gold, 27 silver and 27 bronze), the most by any of the competing nations. Sweden (64), Great Britain (43 – 33 more than in 1912), France (41), Belgium (36) and Finland (34) were the other successful medal-winning countries.

* Britain’s Albert Hill achieved the 800m/1500m track double and Percy Hodge won the 3,000m steeplechase while the 4x400m men’s relay squad and field hockey team also collected gold medals.

* The Antwerp Games surprisingly featured a week of winter sports, with figure skating and ice hockey making their Olympic debut.

* Duke Kahanamoku retained the 100m swimming title he won eight years earlier in 1912. *Nedo Nadi won five gold medals in the fencing events.

* Sweden’s deer shooting champion Oscar Swahn, aged 72, won another gold medal, this time in the team event to become the oldest Olympic champion ever.

He had won gold in 1912 in his native Stockholm.

* 23-year-old Paavo Nurmi triumphed in the 10,000m and 8,000m cross country races, won gold in the team cross country event and received a silver medal in the men’s 5,000m.

He became a national hero and his efforts and contributions helped Finland break the USA’s dominance in track and field events.

* In a unique moment in Olympic history, the 12-ft dinghy event in sailing was held in two different countries as the final two races took place in the Netherlands.

* Ace pistol shooter Guilherme Paraense won Brazil’s first ever Olympic gold medal.

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