London 2012

1932 - Los Angeles

Last Updated: 20/06/12 2:04pm

  • Share:
Didrikson: Golden girl.

Didrikson: Golden girl.

The Great Depression meant the number of competitors was half what it had been four years previously but 18 world records were broken as Los Angeles redefined the modern Olympics forever.

In this Year...

  • Former Olympic gold medal swimmer Johnny Weissmuller stars in the title role of Tarzan the Ape Man.
  • Carry Grant, Katharine Hepburn and Shirley Temple all begin their movie careers.
  • The Chicago Bears beat Portsmouth Spartans 9-0 in the was the first ever play-off game held by the National Football League (NFL).
  • American golfer Gene Sarazen wins both the US Open and then the Open Championship at Prince's in Kent as he debuts the sand iron which he had just invented.
  • Work begins on the first parking metre in Oklahama in the United States.
  • Star chaser Golden Miller wins the first of five consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups.

Although the relative remoteness of California and the depression had meant a severe drop in participants, quality of competition was high despite the lack of numbers.

America also raised the bar in their staging of the Games - especially with the huge Coliseum Olympic Stadium dwarfing anything that had been seen before.

The Los Angeles Coliseum as it became has since staged Super Bowls and World Series and is the only stadium to have ever hosted an Olympic games twice.

The 16-day event also set a precedent for the future as past Games had not been shorter than 79 days but would stay at 16-18 days from here on in.

For the first time, the male athletes were housed in a single Olympic village, although the women were afforded the luxury of a hotel, while official automatic timing and the photo-finish camera were introduced for the track events.

Also for the first time, the first three athletes in each event stood on a podium and the winner had their flag raised in victory, something which we now take for granted in medal ceremonies.

Japan's 14-year-old swimmer Kusuo Kitamura became the youngest male in any sport to take gold in an individual event when he won the 1,500m freestyle.

The 18-year-old American Babe Didrikson qualified for all five women's track and field events but, as women were restricted to competing in three, she won the javelin and set world records in the high jump and the 80m hurdles.

British fencer Judy Guinness surrendered the chance of a gold medal when she pointed out to officials they had not noticed two touches scored against her by her final opponent Austria's Ellen Preis.

Olympics Stars:

Babe Didrikson was the typical all-round athlete as she excelled in the likes of basketball, baseball and softball before heading to the Olympics and picking up two golds and a silver, which could have also been gold had her action not been ruled illegal in a jump-off.

Didrikson, or Babe Zaharias after she was married, turned to golf and was the first woman to compete in a men's PGA Tour event before winning both the US and British ladies' Amateur Golf Championship becoming a founder member of the LPGA.

Helen Madison won three freestyle swimming gold medals as the joint-leading gold medal winner in 1932, as she rode a superb vein of form that had seen her break 16 world records in in 16 months before the Games.

Madison's exploits led to her starring in films The Human Fish and The Warrior's Husband but, now deemed a professional, she was unable to compete at the next Olympics to try and add to her medal tally.

Tommy Hampson won one of the more thrilling 800m races in the Olympics as he edged out Canadian Alex Wilson right on the line to grab gold for Great Britain.

Hampson's time of 1.49,7 was also a new world record at the time for the teacher from St Albans, who added a silver medal to his tally when Britain finished second in the 4x400m relay.

  • Share:

Most Popular

Olympics 2012 Features

Legends

DOB: 17/5/1956 Event: Boxing Medals: 1 gold Flag: USA

Top Tens

A week into the Games of the XXX Olympiad, Richard Moore brings us his half-way highs and lows

Olympics history

Linford Christie sprinted to 100m gold for Britain at an Olympic Games best remembered for America's basketball dream team.