Friday 20 January 2012

1900 Summer Olympics Paris: II Olympiad

Last week was the first in my looks at the various Summer Olympiads in the lead up to the return to London in July to be the first city to host a third Summer Olympiad. Today it is the turn to take a look at the second in Paris, which did not have an opening ceremony. Although seeing as the Olympics started on 14 May and ended on 28 October as part of the World Fair it may explain why.

There were no medals from these games with the winners receiving cups or trophies and professionals were allowed to take part in some sports like fencing.

Nations 24 (+10)
Competitors 997 (+756)
Sports 18 (+9)
Events 95 (+52)

14 May - 28 October 1900 in Paris

As you can see there were new nations and new events joining the growing Olympic movement.

Of the nations the debutants were:

  • Argentina
  • Belgium
  • Bohemia
  • Canada
  • Cuba
  • India
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Spain
As you may notice there are twelve countries on the above list as Bulgaria and Chile who had been represented at the previous games did not send athletes. So we are down already to only 12 ever present nations. There is also a dispute about whether Brazil, Haiti, Iran, Luxembourg and Peru were represented, the IOC records say they were not but some other records say they were there.

With twice as many sports there were more opportunities in different fields.

Archery the IOC lists 6 events as part of the Olympics but there were 8 other events as part of the World's Fair that could just as easily be counted. However as that would have involved 5000 archers it is probably a matter of making the games looklike they were growing that hte 150 who took part in those 6 events are officially counted. Only three nations France, Belgium and Netherlands sent archers.

There were no standardised rules for international archery until 1931 therefore the rules for the event were determined for early archery competitions by the host nation. The European nations tended to base their's on the skills of hunting.

The disciplines were: 
  • Au Cordon Doré  (the Golden Chord) 33m
  • Au Cordon Doré 50m
  • Au Chapalet (The Rosary) 33m
  • Au Chapalet 50m
  • Sur la Perche à la Herse (Perch on the Harrow)
  • Sur la Perche à la Pyramide (Perch on the Pyramid)
Basque pelota made its one and only appearance as an official Olympic sport. It was contested by two teams, hardly surprisingly France and Spain. If consisted of one match and the score is lost to history. However, the Spaniards were victorious.

Cricket surprisingly made made its only Olympic appearance in Paris of all places. It was meant to appear in Athens four years earlier but no teams signed up. In 1900 it almost faced a similar fate when Belgium and the Netherlands withdrew their teams. In the end a touring side the Devon and Somerset Wanderers (Old Boys of Blundell School and Castle Cary CC) took on a team made up of Albion CC and Standard Athletic Club in Paris (teams of expats). Only two of the GB team were deemed to be county standard but they still beat the French Brits by 158 runs.

Croquet appeared in the well known form only once, again in 1900. But it makes Olympic history in being the first Olympic sport to include women in the shape of Mme. Filleaul Brohy, Mlle. Marie Ohnier and Mlle. Desprès took part among the 9 French competitors but did not 'medal'. There was a one ball singles, two ball singles and doubles event to make 3 winners all French. Surprising considering the popularity in English lawns it was only the Belgians that challenged the French.

Equestrian made a debut for horsemanship in 1900. The disciplines were Jumping, High Jump and Long Jump. Belgium won two events outright and a French and Italian rider shared the high jump.

Football made its debut in Paris. Keep it quiet to the Scottish, Welsh and Irish FAs but the first winners were team GB. Well at least in the form of Upton Park FC, although no connection to West Ham United except the name. Although the event was actually two demonstration matches against the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques from Paris against Upton Park and the Université Libre de Bruxelles. The French were therefore the only team to play twice but lost to the British and beat the Belgians.

Women golfers taking part in the 1900 Games
Golf actually went one better than croquet in having a separate Men's and Women's events. It therefore means that Margaret Ives Abbott (USA) became one of the first female Olympic Champions.

Polo along with the other equestrian events was the ball sport of the horsing world, In total there were eight polo events held as part of the World's Fair but it is only the Grand Prix Internationale de l'Exposition that counted as a medal event. Like the football and cricket it was a club event rather than an international. Unlike those two however it resulted in two Englishman, an Irishman and an American taking the gold for the Foxhunter's Club beating another GB/USA mixed team in the final.

Eights on the Seine
Rowing also made it's Olympic debut on the River Seine with four diciplines, single sculls, coxed pairs, fours and eights. Strong winds had prevented the event making an appearance in 1896. A four lane course was laid out, but this led to controversy in the coxed fours event when six crews were put through to the final. This came after protests that the winners of the three semi-finals plus only the runner up of semi final three were to go through. In the end when the final was scheduled the original qualifiers boycotted the event so other crews rowed again in the final. However, the officials deciding to hold a second 'final' for the boycotting crews, both are officially recognised as Olympic event and there are two sets of medals awarded in that event. However as the second final contained the winners or the semi-finals it means that the unbeaten crew of the Germania Ruder Club Gustav Goßler, Oskar Goßler, Walter Katzenstein,Waldemar Tietgens and (cox) Carl Goßler are probably the real champions.

Surprisingly considering its history in the sport GB only sent one sculler to the event.

France v Germany in first Olympic Rugby match
Rugby Union made a debut  in Paris for the first of its four appearances at the games. While the hosts fielded the national squad, Germany were represented by  FC 1880 Frankfurt and GB by Moseley Wanderers. Moseley had played a full game in England the day before their match in Paris against France and then returned straight away to England. In the result just two games were played both won by France and Germany and GB both received a silver medal.  Rugby holds the distinction of being the first sport to award a gold medal to a black Olympian as Franco-Haitian Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera was part of the winning team.

Rugby will actually be returning as a sevens event in the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro.

Sailing another of the Olympic perennials that made it's debut at Paris, or rather Le Harve. Like rowing it had failed to appear in the first games as scheduled. So the first medals were awarded in classes that were handicapped on time based on the tonnage of the yachts. In the end GB won 3 golds, France 2, Switzerland and a Mixed (France/GB) team one apiece.

Charlotte Cooper first female Olympic Champion
Tennis made it debut a a little Olympic history on 11 July when Charlotte Cooper already three time Wimbledon won in both the singles and mixed doubles. The men's singles semi-finals saw four British men contesting the medals. Between them they would eventually take 10 Wimbledon singles titles, the winner Lawrence Doherty was the rising star, who would win five consecutive from 1902-1906, he beat the old hand   and Scottish born 1896 Champion Harold Mahony, the beaten semi-finalists were Laurie's elder brother and 1897-1900 Wimbledon Champion Reginald and Arthur Norris. Sadly of the three Wimbledon Champions all three were dead by 43, the Doherty brothers had respitory problems which led to them taking up the sport and Mahony died in a motorcycle accident.

However, with the Doherty brothers taking the men's doubles and Reginald partnering Charlotte to the mixed doubles GB took all four of the competitions on offer.

Tug-o-War saw that man Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera win the first medal by a black Olympian, three months before the Rugby Union triumph. However, three of the USA team were taking part in the hammer at the same time as the competition so only two teams took part. France losing to a combined team from Denmark and Sweden.

Water Polo the pool saw the arrival of water polo to the games without a Hungarian team who dominate this event through Olympic history. In the end it was another triumph for GB with a team that scored 29 goals and conceded 3 through the knock out tournament. As a omen of things to come this was also the first time a Coe won Olympic gold as a Thomas Coe was part of the Osborne Swimming Club team that dominated this event.

There were some changes to other events that were mentioned in the 1896 post, weightlifting became an element in a 16 element gymnastics competition. In Athletics the hammer was added, as were standing jumps for the three disciplines, the 110m, 200 and 400m hurdles, two steeplechases over 2500m and 4000m, a 60m sprint, the 200m and a 5000m team race (like cross country adding the places for a lowest point score to win). Cycling saw just a 2000m sprint and the 25km race in the home of cycling, however 25km champion Louis Bastien also took part in the épée.

Being part of the World's Fair there were other sporting events taking place including kite flying, cannon shooting and motorcycle racing but these are not recognised by IOC.

See also:

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