Friday, 13 January 2012
By the 1920 games the Olympic capacity for nonsense had been dulled by war. This was a games of new states and sanctions. Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey were banished from the games for losing the first world war and the (vastly expensive and inevitably loss making) games were granted to Belgium as if to compensate them through sport for being thoroughly trampled and shot at.
Argentina, Finland, The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, Brazil and Monaco competed as nations for the first time. New Zealand, which had competed as part of a combined team with Australia in 1908 and 1912, competed on its own for the first time. Estonia entered, having just won the Estonian war of independence, and its athletes dominated the lighter categories of men's weightlifting.
Oscar Swahn of Sweden (pictured), having taken 2 golds in 1908 and another in 1912, took his third and final running deer double shot medal. Even though this time it was a bronze he set a record unbeaten to this day in the process, smashing his own record by 8 years and once again becoming the oldest medal winner in Olympic history, this time at the ripe old age of 72.
1920 was the first year in which the gold medals were not actually made of gold.
The local organising committee went bankrupt so no official report of the games or medals tables were ever produced.