Tuesday, August 12, 2008

London 1908

Wherein from this book: The Story of the Olympic Games, 776B.C. to 1960 A.D..

[United States and Sweden were insulted when their flags were not flown with the other flags]

The Finns had a grudge of their own. They carried no national banner in the big parade because Russia had insisted, through diplomatic channels, that they must carry a Russian flag if they carried any at all. They marched flagless. The athletes of Ireland were disgruntled because they were told they must compete under the banner of Great Britain and that Irish victories would add to the athletic prestige of Great Britain, a state of affairs that left the Irish athletes collectively frothing at the mouth.

That was just the start of the merrymaking. Things grew worse rapidly with half a dozen nations, by petulant proxy, barking about officials and official rulings, protesting discrimination, denouncing all things British and threatening to withdraw from competition. After the flag incident, the United States spokesmen protested the acceptance by the British officials of Indian Tom Longboat's entry in the marathon race -- he was running for Canada -- on the ground that he had been declared a professional in the United States. They protested the British methods of making the drawings for competition in trial heats. They protested the coaching of British athletes by enthusiastic British officials who were judging the contests. They protested that no member of the American Olympic Committee was allowed on the field during competition. They protested the British attitude toward United States protests and United States officials. Finally they raised a terrific howl over the decision in the 400-metre race and withdrew their finalists when the event was ordered run over again, thus giving Halswelle of Merrie England the track to himself for an official walk-over in that Olympic event.

Lest it thought that...the United States officials, merely went mad with the heat of competition and ran around biting at everybody wearing a British official badge, it might be added that the representatives of other nations were also duly or unduly indignant and loud in their protests to and against the British officials. Sweden and Finland were aggrieved. The Italians kicked up a row about the marathon finish, insisting that their man Dorando would have won it except for muddling interference on the part of British officials near the finish line. Canada and France, through their athletic spokesmen, comlained bitterly of British injustice in rulings made in the cycling events. The Swedish wrestlers were withdrawn from the Greco-Roman competition as a protest against what they called unfair British decisions.

NY Times links

And another thing bothering me about this book. The authors continually spell metre instead of meter. I let it go thinking maybe it's been since 1960 that we Americanized the spelling. I mean Kieran and Daley are American and they wrote for the New York Times, so I'm assuming they've familiarity with the standards of the day. But reading the New York Times newspaper article from 1908, the word is clearly spelled METER.


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