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Looking back at previous games in London

07-08-2012 10:13 BJT Special Report:2012 London Olympic Games |

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This summer, London becomes the first city to host the modern Olympics three times, having done so in 1908 and 1948. But the big budget extravaganza of 2012 is a world away from the experimental Games of 1908 and the ‘Austerity Games’ of the post-war period. Our friends at AFP look back at those two previous Olympics.

A simple line on the ground is all there is to remind us of what was the finishing line of a mighty sports stadium.Today’s it’s offices belonging to the BBC -- but in 1908, this was the site of the fourth Olympic Games of the modern era -- and the first to be held in London.

Back then just 2,000 athletes took part -- only 37 of them women.

Some of the sports seen then have disappeared -- the standing high and long jump, motorboat racing and the tug of war.

But it was here that the marathon was first run at its full modern distance:

Sarah Hutton, said, Records Specialist at National Archives, said, It’s a different kind of race from the one you have today -- the athletes didn’t have the kind of sporting clothes and equipment that they have today so they were doing things like putting lard and butter on their feet and different types of shoes -- they were having a couple of glasses of wine before they set out.

There’s a really strong amateur feel of people just coming along and just giving it a jolly good go -- in clothes that would not have been particularly helpful for a sporting event."

In 1948 London again staged the Games - on a shoe-string budgetNicknamed the Austerity Games, this time 4,000 athletes from 59 nations competed.

The only remaining venue from the ’48 Games is this velodrome in south LondonTommy Godwin won two bronze medals for Great Britain.

Tommy Godwin, Former British Olympic Cyclist, said, "We were amateurs, I would work 48 hours a week in a factory as an electrician and then train just two nights a week and then ride on a Saturday -- we were very ordinary young lads just riding for little prizes like a watch, a clock or a cantine of cutlery, something small as a prize but we couldn’t have any money."

Visiting athletes in 1948 slept in military barracks and school dormitories, and had to provide their own equipment. British competitors were still on post-war rationing.

Cathy Ross, Museum of London, said, "Europe had just come out of this enormous catastrophic war and all countries were very hard up -- no money but at the same time I think there was an appetite to do something that brought the nations together again in a good way as opposed to bringing them together in warfare -- so London stepped in and it very much was the austerity Olympics."

All this is a world away from the glossy Games of 2012 -- whose £9.3 bn price tag is 1,000 times that of 1948But for the 10,000 athletes the goal is still the same -- to come to London and leave with a medal.


Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: CNTV.CN

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