Legends Of The Olympic Games - 1920 To 1952

Legends of the Olympic Games - 1920 to 1952

Tokyo, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 22nd Jun, 2021 ) :The 32nd Summer Olympics finally start on July 23 in Tokyo after a year's delay because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here is AFP Sport's first set of five legends of the Games: - Paavo Nurmi: Flying Finn - One of the Olympics' first superstars, Finland's Nurmi dominated the Games in the 1920s, winning nine gold medals and three silvers.

He stole the show at Antwerp 1920, winning golds for the 10,000m, individual and team cross-country, and taking silver in the 5,000m, all in the space of just three days.

In the 1924 Paris Olympics he was untouchable, winning the 1,500m before returning to the track just over an hour later in searing heat to win 5,000m gold.

Two days later Nurmi defended his cross-country titles in temperatures in excess of 40C (104F) before the next day winning the 3,000m team race and becoming the first athlete to win five golds at a single Olympics.

It could have been six but Finnish team officials, fearing for his health, refused to allow Nurmi to line up for his 10,000m defence.

An angry Nurmi returned to Finland and immediately posted a new 10,000m world record that stood for 13 years.

He reclaimed his 10,000m gold in 1928 in Amsterdam, adding silvers in the 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase.

He was controversially barred from the Los Angeles 1932 Olympics three days before the 10,000m for allegedly receiving payment to race in Germany, denying him a chance of a 10th gold medal.

- Johnny Weissmuller: gold to silver screen - Long before he swung on to the silver screen playing Tarzan, Weissmuller found fame at the 1924 and 1928 Olympics, dominating swimming to win five golds.

The American son of German immigrants won three of the men's six golds at Paris in 1924 in the 100m and 400m freestyle, and 4x200m freestyle relay, adding water polo bronze.

He successfully defended the 100m and relay titles four years later in Amsterdam.

In an era which saw only six men's events in the pool, Weissmuller bears comparison to modern greats such as Mark Spitz or Michael Phelps, such was his superiority after innovating the sport with the flutter kick and head-turning breathing.

Weissmuller went on to make even more of a splash in Hollywood, where he starred in 12 Tarzan films with his famous jungle yell.

- Jesse Owens: superstar snubbed - Owens exploded the Nazi-propagated myth of Aryan racial superiority when he won four athletics gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics under the nose of Adolf Hitler.

Just a year earlier the African-American had set five world records and equalled a sixth in the space of 45 minutes in Ann Arbor, including a long jump of 8.13m that would stand unsurpassed for 25 years.

In Berlin, he won the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and long jump, setting three world records and reportedly prompting Hitler to storm out, though the "Buckeye Bullet" later said the Fuehrer had waved to him.

The grandson of slaves, Owens was snubbed by his own president when Franklin D. Roosevelt failed to greet him, a customary honour for returning Olympic champions.

"I wasn't invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I wasn't invited to the White House to shake hands with the president, either," said Owens.

"When I came back to my native country, after all the stories about Hitler, I couldn't ride in the front of the bus," Owens said of the racial segregation that existed in the US at the time. "I couldn't live where I wanted." Owens, who died in 1980, has a street and a school named after him in Berlin.

- Fanny Blankers-Koen: athlete of the century - Blankers-Koen defied conventions and blazed a pathway for women's sport when she swept to four golds at the 1948 Olympics as a 30-year-old mother of two.

After making her Games debut in 1936 -- where she approached Jesse Owens for an autograph, one of her most treasured possessions -- the Dutch marvel's Olympic career was put on hold by World War II.

By the time the Olympics returned in London in 1948, and despite living for six years under German occupation near Amsterdam, Blankers-Koen held six world records.

Any doubts about a mother's suitability to compete were erased when she won every event she entered -- the 100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and 4x100m relay.

"One newspaperman wrote that I was too old to run, that I should stay at home and take care of my children," she told the New York Times in 1982.

"When I got to London, I pointed my finger at him and I said: 'I show you'." Blankers-Koen was named female athlete of the century by the IAAF in 1999. She died five years later at the age of 85.

- Emil Zatopek: unmatched distance treble - Czech Emil Zatopek spoke six languages and "never shut up", according to one miffed rival.

He never stopped running either as he became the only man to win all three distance events -- 5,000m, 10,000m and marathon -- at the same Olympics.

Known for his ungainly running style, Zatopek won the first of his four Olympic golds in 1948 with an enormous victory in the 10,000m, lapping all but two competitors.

A few days later in the 5,000m, an out-of-sorts Zatopek dropped 100m behind Belgian leader Gaston Reiff before fighting back to miss gold by a whisker.

Four years later in Helsinki, Zatopek defended his 10,000m crown, and then claimed a dramatic 5,000m victory when he stormed past his rivals off the final bend.

But his most remarkable victory was in the marathon, which he had never run before but found so easy that he chatted with photographers along the route because, he said, it was "very boring".

Zatopek later fell out of favour with Czech authorities, was assigned to collect refuse in Prague and worked for seven years in a uranium mine.