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But although the author makes reference to the National Olympian Games of , he describes WG Grace, who won the yds hurdles at the meeting, as a year-old, when Grace was in fact Kent also has the Athens Games taking place in August. They were held in April. As well as checkable facts not being checked, there are also plenty of examples of careless writing or editing.

Manchester United did not win the first Football League championship in , but their first title. France won the rugby competition such as it was at the Olympics, not , as Kent has it. Before the games had ended, almost everything that could go wrong had, and the organizers were universally condemned. The games opened in the pouring rain, which was to continue for the entirety of the two week event. At the opening ceremonies one country insisted that another march un The London Olympics of was intended to reveal Britain and its empire at its zenith.

At the opening ceremonies one country insisted that another march under its banner, and another refused to dip its banner to King Edward, resulting in an uproar. Decisions on competitions were questioned, contestants were accused of being professionals, a rival dropped the shot of the shot-put on the foot of a competitor, and one contestant ended up running a race alone. Amongst the chaos there were some outstanding athletic performances, but these were far overshadowed by disputes, backbiting, disqualifications, and more.

This is the superb and entertaining tale of one of the most fascinating, unusual, and at times hilarious Games ever held.

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Having overdosed on the London Olympics, it seemed like an interesting idea to compare those with the London Games of years before. Louis in , the Olympics were scheduled to occur in Rome. Unfortunately Rome struggled to find the funding. Luckily for the IOC although far from lucky for Italy the eruption of Vesuvius provided the perfect excuse for Italy to save face and give up the Having overdosed on the London Olympics, it seemed like an interesting idea to compare those with the London Games of years before.

Luckily for the IOC although far from lucky for Italy the eruption of Vesuvius provided the perfect excuse for Italy to save face and give up their attempt to host it under the excuse of having to reallocate their funds to support the earthquake victims. Although, according to Kent, there never was any government money for the Olympics. The hosting then passed to London.


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  8. Kent's tale of the organisation of the Olympics suggests an almost unbelievable level of amateurism, yet somehow they seem to have come off. The Games even being moderately successful for Great Britain as we ended up with a haul of 56 gold medals — our highest ever. Less so for the United States however, their lower medal totals aside, relations between the US and Great Britain seem to have been strained by the Olympics not strengthened by it — hardly the Olympic spirit that the IOC were hoping for.

    Starting with their refusal to dip their flag to the King during the opening ceremony, and continuing throughout the Games with repeated official complaints from the US camp about perceived poor officiating, poor judging and general bias.

    The US did not feel they were competing on a level playing field. This underlying story of the Olympics as a struggle between the US and Great Britain is reinforced with each chapter starting with a quote from the post-Olympics report refuting one or more of the US's complaints. The book itself is a humorous sporting fact-frenzy.

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    Meticulously researched, Kent provides a fascinating journey through the Olympics. From the beginning he dives straight in with facts, figures and anecdotes — and it's far from being only about the US and Great Britain. The book does slow down a little in places, the first half is definitely the stronger, but the book as a whole is heartily recommended for anybody with an interest in how the Olympics has changed.

    Sep 09, Sophia rated it really liked it. It could be argued that the Olympics was the first "proper" Olympics, and it was then that the games really coalesced into something that's recognisable to us today. They were originally supposed to be hosted in Italy, but when Vesuvius erupted the Italians no longer had the resources available and we stepped in as a substitute. I'm sure most people wished we hadn't, because the games were beset by controversy from the very start.

    In particular, Anglo-American relations fell to an all-time It could be argued that the Olympics was the first "proper" Olympics, and it was then that the games really coalesced into something that's recognisable to us today.

    In particular, Anglo-American relations fell to an all-time low, with heated arguments between the British judges, who were accused of bias towards the home athletes, and the American athletes and coaches, who were accused in turn of unsportsmanlike behaviour. Disputes arose in a large number of events and the squabbles and backbiting make for very interesting reading. Graeme Kent certainly deserves a gold medal for research, because this book is absolutely crammed with fascinating facts. We learn why the marathon is 26 miles yards long, why long distance runners would do well to avoid consuming too much alcohol during a race, and that pole vaulting can be quite painful when there's nothing but grass to land on.

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    Many of the anecdotes are funny, such as that of the Russian team who arrived 13 days late because they were still using the Julian calendar alas, this story may be apocryphal , or the tug-of-war team who turned up in their steel-capped work boots! I also loved learning about the first women's events, the difficulties they had in entering any of the events at all, and the awful corsets and voluminous skirts they had to wear when they did. I did feel that most of the funny and quirky stuff came towards the beginning of this book, which left the second half filled with less interesting material.