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Olympic Games

IV (4th) OLYMPIAD
LONDON, UK | Apr 27th - Oct 31st, 1908


London, GBR


London 1908

LONDON, UK
GAMES OF THE IVth OLYMPIAD

April 27 - October 31, 1908

Mascot - none

22 countries (incl. RSA), 2035 athletes (36 women)

21 sports, 110 events

Opening - King Edward VII (GBR)

Torch lit by - none

Candidates: Berlin, Milan, Rome

Also known as the "rubber man" due to his amazing versatility, Raymond Ewry achieved more than his fair share of Olympic success during consecutive Olympiads. His final participation in the Games was in 1908, four years before his events were taken out of the Olympic program.

The Olympic ideal is given a new dimension

Rome had originally been selected to host the 1908 Olympics, but the Italian organizers withdrew after a 1906 eruption of Mount Vesuvius created havoc in the country. The IOC asked the British Olympic Association to take over. In many respects, it was the ideal solution. England had much more collective experience in organizing large sports events than any other country, with the Henley Royal Regatta, the All-England (Wimbledon) tennis tournament, and the 30-year-old Amateur Athletic Association's national track and field championships. The image of the Games was restored within White City (about 70,000 standing places), in London (22 April - 31 October), on the fringes of the Anglo-French exhibition commemorating the Entente Cordial. These Olympics permitted a new dimension to be added to the Games.

Twenty-two countries competed in the 1908 Olympics, the same number as in 1900, but the number of athletes increased dramatically, from 1,330 to 2,035. They took part in the official procession in front of the Royal family.

The English organizers did bring considerably more order to the Olympics, primarily by limiting the number of athletes that could represent any one country in a given event. But the 1908 Games were the first to be marred by international politics and controversy over judging

Finnish athletes were told that they would have to march under the flag of the Soviet Union, not the flag of Finland, and they chose not to carry any flag at all. Similarly, Irish athletes who wanted to represent their country were ordered to compete on behalf of Great Britain, and many of them withdrew as a result. Acrimony between the United States and the host country began at the opening ceremony, when the American flag bearer, Ralph Rose, refused to dip the flag to the royal box, as other countries did. He explained his action with the terse statement, "This flag dips to no earthly king."

Several decisions by British judges went against American athletes during the games, and U. S. spokesmen felt they stemmed from bias, caused in part by the flag incident. Other countries also complained about some official decisions. The Swedish Greco-Roman wrestling team withdrew because of several adverse rulings, and both Canada and France complained bitterly about what they felt were unfair decisions in cycling.

The biggest controversy arose from the final of the 400-meter run, in which there were only four runners, one Briton and three Americans. J. C. Carpenter, who apparently won the race, was disqualified for allegedly interfering with the British runner, Wyndham Halswelle. Judges ordered a rerun of the final, but the three Americans refused to take part and Halswelle won by running around the track all by himself.

One reason for the disqualification was that Great Britain and the United States had different rules governing obstruction in running races. As a result of the controversy, the IOC decided, after the 1908 Games, that judges would be drawn from an international pool, rather than being furnished by the host country, and that standardized rules would be drawn up for all sports. That led directly to the founding in 1912 of the International Amateur Athletic Federation to codify rules for track and field competition.

The marathon also ended in controversy when Dorando Pietri of Italy collapsed after entering the stadium ahead of the pack. He was revived by doctors and some of the officials helped him to his feet and then assisted him to the finish line. John Hayes of the United States was the second finisher. Pietri had been declared the winner, but the Americans lodged a protest that was finally upheld. However, the action by the British officials, and the unusually long time it took them to uphold the protest, didn't go over very well with the United States.

This at once made headlines in the national press. But thanks to the marathon - whose course went through Windsor Castle and the stadium of White City - which was disputed by runners over a distance of 42.195km (26mi 385yds), and thanks to some good organization and a veritable sporting interest (numerous events and plenty of athletes), the Games ended with the result that the Olympic ideal became more recognized and appreciated.

On the subject of results, the Americans, led by the middle distance king Mel Sheppard, demonstrated their supremacy in the athletics events. But at home, the British managed to win the most important medals among those distributed throughout the 20 sports: 143 (55 gold), against an American total of 47.

On the brighter side, the overall organization of the 1908 Olympics was nearly impeccable despite an almost constant downpour of rain. The system of using qualifying standards and preliminary competition leading up to the medals events has been followed by the organizers of every Olympics since then.

Quite by accident, the standard marathon distance was established in 1908. The original course was 25 miles long, which was more or less the standard distance at the time. But the starting line was moved from its original location to Windsor Castle, in order to give the royal family a better view, and the resulting distance of 26 miles, 385 yards has been the standard ever since.

The British also set a standard for future international swimming competition by building a 100-meter pool, clearly marked into lanes. And they planted the seed of the future Winter Olympics by adding figure skating to the program. (Two other new sports, powerboat racing and the tug-of-war, were never again seen in the Olympics.)

Despite the disputed 400-meter result, the United States did well in track and field, winning 13 of the 24 events. Ray Ewry won the standing broad jump and standing high jump to increase his gold medal total to 10, which is still the all-time record. Mel Sheppard was the only other double gold medallist and track and field, winning the 800- and 1,500-meter runs. The biggest winner overall was Henry Taylor of Great Britain, who won three gold medals in swimming.

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LONDON 1908 GOLD MEDAL WINNERS
99 Men, 3 Women, 4 Open (Sailing) Events
1 Men, 1 Women, 2 Open Events (Wintersport)

ARCHERY
M/Ind. Continental: Eugene Grisot, France
M/Ind. York: William Dod, GBR
W/Ind. National: Sybil Newall, GBR

ATHLETICS, Men
100m: Reggie Walker, S Africa
200m: Robert Kerr, Canada
400m: Wyndham Halswelle, GBR
800m: Melvin Sheppard, USA
1500m: Melvin Sheppard, USA
5mi: Emil Voight, GBR
110m Hurdles: Forrest Smithson, USA
400m Hurdles: Charles Bacon, USA
3200m Steeplechase: Arthur Russell, GBR
3mi Team Race: Great Britain
3500m Walk: George Larner, GBR
10mi Walk: George Larner, GBR
Marathon: John Hayes, USA
Discus: Martin Sheridan, USA
Discus Greek: Martin Sheridan, USA
Hammer: John Flanagan, USA
High Jump: Harry Porter, USA
Javelin: Eric Lemming, Sweden
Javelin Freestyle: Eric Lemming, Sweden
Long Jump: Frank Irons, USA
Pole Vault: Edward Cook & Alfred Gilbert, USA
Shot Put: Ralph Rose, USA
Triple Jump: Tim Ahearne, GBR
Standing High Jump: Ray Ewry, USA
Standing Long Jump: Ray Ewry, USA
Olympic Relay: United States
Tug-of-War: Great Britain

BOXING
Bantamweight: A. Henry Thomas, GBR
Featherweight: Richard Gunn, GBR
Lightweight, Frederick Grace, GBR
Middleweight: John Douglas, GBR
Super Heavyweight: Albert Leonard Oldman, GBR

CYCLING, Men
2000m Tandem Sprint: France
One-lap race: Victor Johnson, GBR
5km Track Race: Benjamin Jones, GBR
20km Track Race: Clarence Kingsbury, GBR
100km Track Race: Charles Bartlett, GBR
Team Pursuit: Great Britain

FENCING, Men
Ind. Epee: Gaston Alibert, France
Ind. Sabre: Jeno Fuchs, Hungary
Team Epee: France
Team Sabre: Hungary

FIGURE SKATING [WINTER]
M/Singles: Ulrich Salchow, Sweden
W/Singles: Madge Syers, GBR
Pairs: Anna Hubler & Heinrich Burger, Germany
RUSSIA???

FOOTBALL
Team, men: Great Britain

GYMNASTICS, Men
Ind. All-around: Alberto Braglia, Italy
Team: Sweden

HOCKEY
Team, men: Great Britain

JEU DE PAUME, Men
Singles Team: Jay Gould, USA

LACROSSE
Team, men: Canada

POLO
Men's Team: Great Britain

RACKETS, Men
Singles: Evan Noel, GBR
Doubles: Great Britain

ROWING, Men
Single Sculls: Harry Blackstaffe, GBR
Coxless Pairs: John Fenning & Gordon Thomson, GBR
Coxless Fours: Great Britain
Eights: Great Britain

RUGBY
Team, Men: Australasia (AUS+NZL)

SAILING, Open
6m Class: Great Britain
7m Class: Great Britain
8m Class: Great Britain
12m Class: Great Britain

SHOOTING, Men
25y SB Rifle DTarget: William Styles, GBR
25y SB Rifle MTarget: John Fleming, GBR
50m SB Rifle Prone: Arthur Ashton Carnell, GBR
50+100y SB Rifle Team: Great Britain
100m Running Deer Single: Oscar Swahn, Sweden
Team: Sweden
100m Running Deer Double: Walter Winans, USA
50m Free Pistol: Paul van Asbroeck, Belgium
300m Free Rifle 3x40: Albert Helgerud, Norway
300m Free Rifle Team: Norway
1000 Free Rifle: Joshua Millner, GBR
50y Military Revolver Team: United States
Military Rifle Team: United States
Trap: Walter Ewing, Canada
Trap Team: Great Britain

SWIMMING, Men
100m Freestyle: Charles Daniels, USA
400m Freestyle: Henry Taylor, GBR
1500m Freestyle: Henry Taylor, GBR
100m Backstroke: Arno Bieberstein, Germany
200m Breaststroke: Frederick Holman, GBR
4x200m Freestyle: Great Britain
10m Platform: Hjalmar Johansson, Sweden
3m Springboard: Albert Zurner, Germany
Water Polo: Great Britain

TENNIS
M/Singles: Josiah Ritchie, GBR
M/Singles Indoor: Arthur Gore, GBR
M/Doubles: George Hillyard & Reggie Doherty, GBR
M/Doubles Indoor: Arthur Gore & Herbert Barrett, GBR
W/Singles: Dorothea Chambers, GBR
W/Singles Indoor: Gwen Eastlake-Smith, GBR

WATER MOTORSPORTS, Men
A-Class: Emile Thoubron, France
B-Class: Great Britain
C-Class: Great Britain

WRESTLING, FREESTYLE
54kg: George Nicholas Mehnert, USA
60.3kg: George Stuart Dole, USA
66.6kg: George Frederick William de Relwyskow, GBR
73kg: Stanley Bacon, GBR
+73kg: George Cornelius O'Kelly, GBR/IRL

WRESTLING, GRECO-ROMAN
66.6kg: Enrico Porro, Italy
73kg: Frithiof Martensson, Sweden
93kg: Verner Johan Weckman, Finland
+93kg: Richard Weisz, Hungary

21 Sports, 110 events

G
B
R

U
S
A

S
W
E

F
R
A

G
E
R

H
U
N

C
A
N

N
O
R

I
T
A

 

Archery

2

   

1

         

3

Athletics (incl. Tug-of-War) (RSA)

8

16

2

     

1

   

28*

Boxing

5

               

5

Cycling

5

   

1

         

6

Fencing

     

2

 

2

     

4

Figure Skating (Winter sport from 1924) (RUS)

1

 

1

 

1

       

4

Football

1

               

1

Gymnastics

   

1

         

1

2

Hockey

1

               

1

Jeu de Paume

 

1

             

1

Lacrosse

           

1

   

1

Polo

1

               

1

Rackets

2

               

2

Rugby (AUS/NZL)

                 

1

Rowing

4

               

4

Sailing

4

               

4

Shooting (BEL)

6

3

2

     

1

2

 

15

Swimming (Diving & W/Polo)

5

1

1

 

2

       

9

Tennis

6

               

6

Water Motorsports

2

   

1

         

3

Wrestling (FIN)

3

2

1

   

1

   

1

9

TOTAL

56

24

8

5

3

3

3

2

2

110

* 2 gold medals awarded in Pole Vault and Figure Skating
NB: Figure Skating was part of the Summer Olympics in 1908 and 1920

LONDON 1908 MEDAL TALLY

Country

G

S

B

TTL

Great Britain

56

50

39

145

United States

23

12

12

47

Sweden

8

6

11

25

France

5

5

9

19

Germany

3

5

5

13

Hungary

3

4

2

9

Canada

3

3

10

16

Norway

2

3

3

8

Italy

2

2

0

4

Belgium

1

5

2

8

Australasia

1

2

2

4

Russia

1

2

0

3

Finland

1

1

3

5

South Africa

1

1

0

2

Greece

0

3

1

4

Denmark

0

2

3

5

Czech Republic Bohemia

0

0

2

2

Netherlands

0

0

2

2

Austria

0

0

1

1

Total

110

106

107

323

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