Friday 11 May 2012

1972 Summer Olympics Munich: XX Olympiad and IV Paralympics

At the 64th IOC Congress in Rome in 1966 it took only 2 rounds of voting to decide where the Games of the Twentieth Olympiad should go. Indeed it was almost all over in the first round when Munich secured 29 votes to 16 for Spain and 6 each for Montreal and Detroit.

Nations 121 (+9)
Competitors 7134 (+1618)
Sports 21 (+3)
Events 195 (+23)

26 August to 10 September, 1972 hosted by Munich, West Germany

and IV Paralympics

Nations 41 (+12)
Competitors 1004 (+254)
Sports 10 (NC)
Events 187 (+6)

2 to 11 August, 1972 hosted by Heidleberg, West Germany

The semi-final of the 100m hurdles two days after eleven Israeli were massacred

 Obviously I cannot cover the 1972 Games with out mentioning the massacre of the Israeli athletes and officials who were captured by Black September terrorists on the early morning of the 5th September and were dead by the following evening. They were:
  • Moshe Weinberg wrestling coach, who was shot in the cheek when the terrorists entered the Israeli apartment block and he put up a fight. He was in apartment one and led them past apartment two with the fencers, athletes and shooters to apartment three with the weightlifters and wrestlers, hoping the bigger men would be able to stop the assailants.When he struggled again he was riddled with machine gun fire and tossed unto the street below.
  • Yossef Romano weightlifter, had not completed a lift in the middleweight category of the competition on the 31 August. The Libyan born veteran of the six-day war after Weinberg was shot he last out at one of the terrorists disarming his AK-47 only to be shot to death by another terrorist. He body lay at this fellow athletes' feet for their day of captivity as a reminder. He has been due to fly home on the 6th for surgery on his knee.
  • Ze'ev Friedman weightlifter, the Polish born flyweight had come 12th in the first day of the weightlifting, 27 August. Like all the others he was killed in the helicopter at the airport when German authorites attempted a rescue mission.
  • David Berger weightlifter, an American born light-heavyweight who worked as a lawyer he was eliminated in the early rounds on 2 September.
  • Yakov Springer weightlifting judge, Polish born he had taken part in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in World War II.
  • Eliezer Halfi wrestler, born in Riga then in the USSR (now Latvia) and a mechanic by trade. In an international competition before the Games he finished 3rd. The Greco-Roman category in which he was participating was due to start on the day on the hostage taking and massacre.
  • Yossef Gutfreund wrestling judge, from Romania he woke to the noise of the break in and thought it was Weinberg who had the other key this appartment one. He held the door with his weight and screamed which allowed weightlifting coach Tuvia Sakolovsky to escape from that room and race walker Shaul Ladany from appartment 2 next door.
  • Kehat Shorr shooting coach, he was one of the two Israeli's pictured at the window during negotiations while weapons were aimed at them. He was originally from Romania
  • Mark Slavin wrestling, at eighteen was the youngest of the victims originally from Minsk, Ukraine, then part of the USSR. Like Halfi he was due to take part in the Greco Roman competition later that day.
  • Andre Spitzer fencing coach, was seen with Shoor at the window. Originally from Romania he have emigrated to the Netherlands. He had arrived in Munich only 4 hours before the team were taken hostage. He tried to give the authorities information that the terrorists did not want them to have and was butted by the end of an AK-47 for his efforts.
  • Amitzur Shapira athletics coach, he was the coach of Esther Shakhmorov (see the board above) who in the 100m had run the Israeli record of 11.45 secs which still stands today. She made the semi-finals of both the 100m and 100m hurdles but withdrew from the latter when she learned that her coach had been murdered. In 1976 she became the first Israeli Olympian to reach the final of any event  when she did that in the 100m hurdles and is still the only track athlete to have done so.
  • also Anton Fliegerbauer who was a German police officer shot at the airstrip.
The deaths led to the first suspension of the Games on 6th September and a memorial service was held in the Olympic stadium. The Olympic flag and that of almost all the competing nations was lowered, although 10 Arab nations objected and theirs were quickly raised to full mast again. Willi Daume, president of the Munich Organising Committee sought to cancel the rest of the Games but the IOC President Avery Brundage backed by the Israeli Chef de Mission Shmuel Lalkin were adamant that Games must go on, this they did from the 7th.

All Jewish sports men and women were put under security guard and some prominent Jewish athletes such as Mark Spitz left Munich for home if their events were already over. Egypt left the Games fearing reprisals, as did the Philippines and Algeria as did some Norwegian and Dutch athletes yet to compete.

Four years later Esther Shakhmorov had the honour of carrying the Israeli flag into the stadium for the opening ceremony, adorned with a black ribbon as a mark of respect to her former coach and the others who were killed in Munich.

New Olympic Nations 

There were eleven new nations at these games, Albania, Burkina Faso (as Upper Volta), Benin (as Dahomey, Gabon, North Korea, Lesotho, Malawi, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Swaziland and Togo.

North Korea's first gold medalist
North Korea managed to get medals of every hue a gold in the 50m Rifle prone for Li Ho-jun, silver for Kim U-Gil in the light-flyweight boxing. Bronzes went to Kim Gwong-Hyong in the 52kg Freestlye Wrestling and the Women's Volleyball Team. This made them by far the most successful of the new nations.

Albanian weightlifter Ymer Pampuri was the unluckiest Olympian from the new nations he managed to set (with two others) an Olympic record and failed to medal. The reason was that in the first of three elements the Clean and Press he set the record for the featherweight division, but in the second stage the Snatch he injured himself and that affected his lifting in the final Jerk stage he ended up 9th overall after managing lifts in each stage.

None of the boxers from Dahomey or Gabon progressed by the first round. Nor did Lesotho, Malawi, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Togo or Upper Volta's athletes. While Malawi and Togo's cyclists failed to finish in the road race.

Meanwhile 13 new nations joined the family of Paralympic nations including the first Communist countries Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Romania, plus Bahamas, Brazil, Egypt, Hong Kong, Kenya, Malaysia, Peru, Portugal and Uganda.

Oath expanded to the officials

Pollay holding the flag while the Athlete's Oath is made
For the first time along an oath for the athletes there was an Olympic Oath for the judges. The wording of the oath differs from that of the athletes but says:

In the name of all the judges and officials, I promise that we shall officiate in these Olympic Games with complete impartiality, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them in the true spirit of sportsmanship.

At the first time of taking this Oath at the Summer Games the honour fell on Heinz Pollay a dressage judge. He had been a double gold medalist the last time the Summer Games had been held in Germany as both the individual and team Dressage champion. He'd also taken team bronze when Germany was allowed to compete in the Games again in 1952.

Taking the athletes' oath was Heidi Schüller who herself was making history as the first female competitor to take the athletes' oath.

The final buzzer with both teams winning

Since 1936 when Basketball has been introduced there had been one team that had taken away gold, the USA. In 1972 there was a cold war final set up when the USA faced off against the USSR. Trailing 48-49 the USA's Doug Collins was fouled hard with just three seconds left on the clock. He was dazed even after receiving treatment on court but did take and score the two free throws, the American's had the lead.

The Russian had to quickly get the ball inbound due to the live clock rules at the time but when Alzhan Zharmukhamedov inbounded to Sergey Belov there was commotion around the scorer's table. The confusion was over a Soviet time out which had apparently been called between the first and second free throws as no time out would have been allowed after the second, but the scorers had not alerted the on court officials in time. Which according to the rules of the day was called before the second free throw because the game would otherwise have been live as soon as the second shot was complete.

For the second inbound instead of Zharmukhamedov making the attempt to pass it up the field Ivan Edeshko was charged with making the long inbound pass to Alexandr Petrov, in the end he was defended so well by Tom McMillan that he had to lay it off short to Modestas Paulauskas who fired it up field to Zharmukhamedov but the buzzer sounded soon after the ball had left Paulauskas's hand and Petrov's shot had fallen harmlessly off the backboard. The led to USA celebrations but these were short lived however as the officials announced that there was an error and that only one and not three seconds had been played.

So for a third time the game was attempted to be restarted following the free throws. McMillan again was guarding Edeshko when an official said something to the American and he back off allowing enough room for the Russian to get his pass off to the other end of the court and Petrov, who gathered and jumped up to fire off a jump shot just before the buzzer.

America announced a protest but the jury upheld the decision although not unanimously. The jury consisted of Puerto Rico, Italy, Hungary, Cuba and Poland. So the rumours circulated that the three Soviet aligned jurors had ignored FIBA regulations and awarded the game incorrectly to the USSR. In the end the USA refused to accept their silver medals which still to this day reside in the IOC's vault in Lausanne.


Paralympic blind demonstration sports

The Paralympics actually took place before the Olympics for the first time at Heidleberg. While these Games remained primarily for spinal injury, wheelchair bound athletes a throw back to the Stoke Manderville initiation of the Games.

However, two demonstration sports a visually impaired 100m and goalball (pictured left) did make an appearance. It was to mark the opening to other disabilities at the next Games in 1976.

Rhodesia did take part in the Paralympics but their Olympic association was banned 4 days before the Olympic Games which happened afterwards. South Africa who were also banned because of their Apartheid regime from the Olympics were still allowed to send teams to the Paralympics until 1980.

Ballymena's Golden Girl

Peters at the start of the last event with the two East Germans
 Although born in Lancashire when she was eleven Mary Peter's moved to Northern Ireland. As I wrote earlier she finished just outside the medals in the first pentathlon in 1964. In 1968 she finished 9th. In Munich it became a battle between Mary and three Germans. Heide Rosedahl  of West Germany who was the world record holder for the long jump, and European Pentathlon champion the previous year. Burglinde Pollak from East Germany who had won silver in those European champs and compatriot Christine Bodner.

In the first event the 100m hurdles Bodner set an Olympic record for the event 13.25 secs (966 points), but this was because this segment of the pentathlon was now 20m longer as women hurdlers now competed over 100 rather than 80 metres. Peters was four tenths and 6 points behind, Rosendahl a further half a second and 7 points, while Pollak only managed 13.53 secs and 927 points in fourth.

Next up for the speciality of Peters the shot putther putt of 16.20m gave her the lead and her second score of 960 points, Pollack was 14cm and 8 points behind, Rosedahl only managed  13.86m for 830 points in 9th and Bodner was in 16th only putted for 12.51m an 750 points.

In the high jump Peters again came top with a clearance of 1.82m giving her 1049 points, Pollak and Bodner were amongst those in 2nd 3 clearances less than Peters at 1.76m (993), while Rosedahl only managed 1.65m (855) but had her two strongest events to come.

The world record holder jumped almost 40cm further than anyone else in the long jump with 6.83m a colossal 1082 points, Bodner was 90 points less with 6.40m, Pollak 130 less with 6.21m while Peters with 5.98 had lost 180 points of her lead.

Going into the last event the 200m Peters was on 3871,  Pollak 3824, Rosendahl 3750 and Bodner 3701. The Germans were the fastest three in the 200m with Rosendahl the only athlete under 23 seconds at 22.96 getting 1041 points seven tenths faster than Bodner in second. Over a second back was Peters in 24.08. There was a delay while everyone was trying to work out what this meant. In the end the difference had given the Northern Irish athlete gold with a world record score by only 10 points at 4801.

Four years later there was an East German 1,2,3 Pollak again in Bronze, losing out to Bodner who in turn missed out on gold to Siegrun Siegl.

One demonstration only appearance other now part of the games

Pat Messner bronze in women's slalom
The two demonstration sports  at the 1972 Games were to face different fates in future Games. For one their appearance as a emonstration was their only participation, while the other would become a full Olympic sport 20 years later.

For water skiing which had men and women's events in Slalom, Figures and jumping it was to be a one off with USA taking three of the golds, with France, Italy and the Netherlands taking the other three.

The other event was Badminton which already showed the Asian dominance of the event Indonesia took both the Men's singles and Doubles, reached the finals of the women's singles only to lose out to Japan. But the mixed doubles was an all European affair which saw GB's Derek Talbot and Gillian Gilkes take the gold.

In 1992 when it became a full Olympic event Indonesia would actually win both the singles and come second in the men's doubles. Actually producing three of the four men's semi-finalists.

First man in not the marathon leader

With anticipation rising in the Olympic Stadium for the arrival of the marathon runners and everyone expected to see American Frank Shorter out in front.

However, into the stadium came someone else first a German called Norbert Sudhaus (pictured) it took the commentators some time to realise that for the last 2 hours plus they hadn't mistaken the order and they realised it was a hoax long before the officials who only after Sudhaus had completed a lap realised their error. There were then boos aimed at Sudhaus by by this time Shorter has entered the stadium. After Thomas Hicks in 1904 and Johnny Haynes 1908 it was a third American gold in the marathon but on none of the three attempts had the USA man entered the stadium first, though in Shorter's case at least he was the first of the competitors who's started the race.

Returning sports

Two sports that had last appeared in the interwar period made their Olympic returns. Handball which had only made an appearance in the 1936 Games returned with the return of the Games to Germany, but this time the appearance was a permanent return. The other was the first time since 1920 that Archery which had first appeared in 1900 was to feature.

In the case of Archery the establishment of international standards and an international body had allowed it to return. As always from this time forth it had Mongolian representation, a nation that had picked up its first medals a silver and three bronzes all in the wrestling. For the return there were just two events a men's and women's with both golds going to the USA. Team events were to be added in 1988.

In handball Yugoslavia were to win the first of their two titles, since the break up of the country Croatia have been Olympic champions twice and are actually as defending champions last time came within two goals of beating France who took gold in their semi-final match.

See also my full list of posts about previous Olympics

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