One of the countries that can claim a very high athletic spirit,
Finland, after many attempts becomes finally hostess of the 1952 Olympics. Helsinki
becomes the smallest capital of all world cities to organize the Games. A sportswriter
in the N.Y. Times wrote that "Helsinki is inhabited by 365,000 sport loving
Helsinki marks also the re-entering to the Games of the Russians, only now they compete under the Soviet Union flag. Fears that American and Soviets were going to be hostile to each other proved not to hold any relation to reality. Both teams were very polite to one another, both in the track as well as in their "private" moments in the Olympic Village.
The Olympiad's star is Emil "The Steamtrain" Zatopek. He won first victories in the 5,000m, the 10,000m and the marathon. A renowned sports analyst said: "I simply cannot explain it. I was there, I saw it. I don't believe it. My logic tells me not to". Zatopek was a Czechoslovakian army major. He did not have ample time for training. He trained whenever there was a chance between army duties. It's worth noticing that his wife Dana, a competent athlete herself, half an hour after Emil's 5,000m victory, she won a gold in the javelin throw. The Zatopek family took four gold medals back home...
Small nations gave us their surprises again with the 400m Jamaican runners who were invincible and with the Luxemburg's Jozy Bartell who won the 1.500m. Jozy caused also some embarrassment to the Games organizers who couldn't find and play Luxemburg's national anthem, so indispensable in such occasions! 3,000m steeple was no surprise when American Ashenfelter won the first victory. There were a few smiles, though, when Ashenfelter at a conference revealed that he was a crime researcher working for the FBI. "It was the first time in my life that I was followed so closely by Russians!...", he explained.
Text by Dimitri N. Marcopoulos
1952 Helsinki Olympics: Various WebPages
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