The first Winter Olympics were held at Chamonix from January 25th to February 4, with 294 competitors including 13 women from 16 countries. The first gold medal was won by Charles Jewtraw from the United States in the 500 metre speed skating. In the ice hockey, Britain finished third behind the USA and Canada.
When the International Olympic Committee put the medals in the mail to the champions a postman in Finland will carry the heaviest load. Paavo Nurmi the Finnish runner won 5 golds. The Phantom Finn’s haul remains a record for a track and field athlete at a single Olympics.
Nurmi who started running at nine and six years later set his sights on emulating the long distance success of his countryman Hannes Kolehmainan realised that the best way to conserve energy was to run at an even pace.
He trained and competed with a stop-watch in his hand, gauging his progress against the clock. The tactic helped him become one of the greatest runners of the Century. He broke 20 world records and won 12 Olympic medals, nine gold and three silver.
Herbert Sutcliffe celebrated his Test debut with the first of 15 century opening partnerships with Jack Hobbs. The pair put on 136 in the first Test against South Africa at Edgbaston and followed up with stands of 268 and 72. England won the five-test series 3 - 0.
CRICKET - John MacBryan became the only Test cricketer who has never batted, bowled or dismissed anyone in the field. The Somerset openers Test career lasted just 165 minutes. Torrential rain washed out his sole appearance, on the first day of the fourth Test against South Africa at Old Trafford.
MOTOR RACING - The authorities decided that from 1925 it would no longer be compulsory for a mechanic to travel in the car with the driver. To accommodate the mechanics, pits were dug next to a convenient straight, usually opposite the grandstand, so that spectators could watch the work.
TENNIS - The United States Open Men’s Singles event moved from Philadelphia to Forest Hills. New York, where the women’s singles had been staged since 1921.
Red Grange was lionised as the best player college football had ever seen. But even though he ran for more than 1000 yards in each of his three seasons for the University of Illinois, his father was not keen on his turning professional.
Then Charles Pyle, a cinema manager and promoter, made him an offer he could not refuse; “How would you like to make a hundred thousand dollars? Maybe even a million?”. So the ‘Galloping Ghost’ signed for the Chicago Bears for $100,000. His reputation was so great that 36,000 watched his debut. Anxious to cash in on their investment, the Bears arranged a grand end of season tour.
The exhibition matches were a spectacular success. More than 70,000 paid to see Grange in New York, and the Giants’ share of the gate money was enough to keep the hard-pressed club in existence.
George Nepia, a 19-year-old Maori, was the almost impenetrable last line of defence that made the New Zealand side “The Invincibles”. Nepia played for the All Blacks in all 30 matches of their unbeaten tour of Britain and France. His solid tackling and skilful kicking made him the team’s mainstay. However, Nepia was unable to show his skills in South Africa two years later. He was barred from touring with the All Blacks because of the colour of his skin.
Cyril Brownlie became the first player to be sent off in an international when he was given his marching orders by the Welsh referee, Albert Freethly in the eighth minute of a heated match against England
BASEBALL - Lou Gerhig started a run of 2,130 consecutive games for the New York Yankees,June 1
FOOTBALL - Arthur Chandler scored in 16 consecutive matches for Leicester in the second division.
RUGBY UNION - Scotland beat England 14 - 11 watched by 70,000 people in the first match at Murrayfield on March 21, and went on to win a Grand Slam.
TENNIS - The French Championships were opened to non-French players for the first time.
England finally found a partner for Maurice Tate, their leading strike bowler who had shouldered a heavy burden since 1924. Harold Larwood, a right arm bowler from Nottinghamshire.
He was thrown into the attack for the decisive fifth Test against Australia at the Oval. He generated tremendous pace with a rhythmical run-up and flowing action that helped England to a 289 run victory and their first win in a series against Australia since 1912. England’s winning formula was a mix of Larwood’s fire with the teasing spin of the 48 year old Wilfred Rhodes, who had been recalled for one last effort. Larwood took three for 34 and Rhodes four for 44. Tate took a
The Royal and Ancient Club decide to introduce an entrance fee for the open for the first time. The patrons who turned up certainly received value for their money.
The first hint that this would be a memorable tournament was in the qualifying round at Sunningdale on June 16. Bobby Jones, who had torn up his card during the first Open in 1921, was by now one of the best players in the world. Even the best, though, were forced to qualify. Jones went out and shot a record 66, three better than any previous round in the championship. His pair of 33‘s put him 4 under par in a round that included 34 putts.
He scored 68 in his second round to qualify with 134, but firmly believed he had peaked too early for the tournament proper at Royal Lytham. His fears appear to have been confirmed when his playing partner Al Watrous was two up with five to play in the final round. Jones, though, clawed his way back with typical tenacity to be all square at the 17th.tee. Then he struck disaster hooking his drive into sandy ground while Watrouse landed on the green in two and appeared confident of winning his first Open. He was not counting on Jones taking a mashie iron and hitting one of the most famous shots in history. The ball flew 170 yards and finished on the green. Watrouse was shattered . He took three putts while Jones was down in two. Jones won the final hole and the Open Championship.
Age and brain-power caught up with fast living Jack Dempsey on September 23, when he lost his world heavyweight crown to the highly literate ex marine Gene Tunney in the open air in Philadelphia.
In driving rain a crowd of 120.000, the largest in boxing history, saw Dempsey, 31, out-boxed for 10 rounds by the 28 year old challenger.
Tunney who was as familiar with the works of Shakespeare as with the performances of his fellow boxers, had studied Dempsey’s methods and ruthlessly exploited the flaws he had discovered to out point the champion.
BADMINTON - Betty Uber made the first of 37 international appearances through to 1951, and won her first 51 matches. The former junior Wimbledon champion took uo badminton only because of a lack of tennis facilities near her home.
CRICKET - In Australia, Victoria amassed a first class record of 1,107 runs against New South Wales in Melbourne. They won by an innings and 656 runs, but in the return match in Sydney a month later Victoria were dismissed for 35.
Gene Tunney’s coolness of brain enabled him to retain his world heavyweight title in Chicago against Jack Dempsey on September 22 in one of Boxing’s most controversial fights. In the seventh round, with Tunney well ahead on points, Dempsey caught the champion with a right and followed through with both hands to knock him into a daze, clutching the ropes. But in his excitement to regain the title he forgot the referee’s instructions before the fight.
Boxers had to retire to a neutral corner after a knockdown. Instead, Dempsey, as he had always done, stood over Tunney waiting to finish him off. The referee had to grab Dempsey round the waist, haul him to the centre of the ring, and point him to a neutral corner
Only then did the referee start the count. Tunney rose at nine, having gained an extra five seconds respite, survived the next two and a half rounds and easily retained his title on points. The fight became known as ‘The Battle of the long Count’.
BBC radio broadcast the first football match commentary from Highbury on January 22, when Arsenal drew with Sheffield United 1 - 1. So that listeners could follow where the ball was the Radio Times printed a diagram of the pitch divided into a number of squares. The commentator placed the ball by saying it was ‘in square 3 or in square 5‘, this was the origin of the phrase “back to square one”.
The FA Cup final was the first to be broadcast live, but will be better remembered for the result and how it came about than any broadcasting milestone. Arsenal lost 1 - 0 to Cardiff City, the only time the trophy has left England, to one of the most extraordinary goals witnessed at Wembley. Cardiff’s centre forward, Hugh Ferguson, shot weakly at the Arsenal goal. The keeper, the Welsh international Danny Lewis, went down for a perfunctory save but the ball wriggled out of his clutches and spun over the line.
BASEBALL - Babe Ruth broke his own record by hitting 60 home runs this season.
BASKETBALL - The Harlem Globetrotters were formed.
GOLF - Bobby Jones led from start to finish to win his second Open with a record aggregate of 285, which included his only round under 70 in an Open, an opening 68.
Tommy Armour made a 10-foot birdie at the 72nd hole of the US Open to force a play-off against Harry Cooper, who took three puts on the final green. Armour won the play-off.
SNOOKER - Joe Davis won the first world championship and was the undefeated world champion until 1947.
The Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam was the outstanding arena of the IX Summer Olympic Games . Its Dutch architect, Jan Wils, won a gold medal for the design at the Olympic Arts Competition.
There was a controversial start to the IXth Summer Olympics when the organizers decided to grant exclusive photographic rights to one company and prohibited all private photography in the stadiums. The measures taken to prevent photographic equipment being taken into the stadiums created long delays and eventually failed.
Around 3000 athletes (including 290 women) from 46 nations competed in these “universal” Games. The German team re-admitted to the Summer Olympics after 16 years of Olympic exile, had a victorious return. Their ten golds’ secured for them the ‘runners-up’ position in the medals table, though still some way behind the USA’s 22 victories. The swimmer Johnny Weissmuler (USA) and the Finnish runner Pavvo Nurmi, who at his third Game, picked up his tenth, eleventh and twelfth Olympic gold medals and were the most successful athletes in the Games.
The spectators in the stadium greeted Henri de Baillet-Latour as the new IOC President as he succeeded Pierre de Coubertin. The Amsterdam Olympics saw new procedures introduced that are still in use today. For the first time, a flame was ignited on the marathon tower in front of the newly built Olympic Stadium, thereby introducing the Olympic Flame to the Games. Greece, founders of the original competition, led the parade of nations. The admission of women to the track-and-field events at Amsterdam was a new development that was to have far reaching consequences.
De Coubertin had always spoken out against women’s participation and, until 1928, women had been ineligible for Olympic track-and-filed athletics. Excellent performances by female competitors at Amsterdam only served to justify their right to compete in Olympic competition.
The German, Lina Radke-Batschauer accomplished what had previously been achieved only by the tug-of-war team back in 1906: a German gold medal in an athletics event. In the 800 metres competition she crossed the finishing line in a world record time of 2mins 16.8secs. Behind her many women runners completed the race in an “exhausted” state, a fact which influenced the IOC’s decision not to allow women to compete in middle distance running events again until the 1960 Rome Games.
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