- Participating nations: 83
- Number of athletes: 5,348 (4,738 men - 610 women)
- Time of year: August 25 - September 11
- Number of events: 150
Before the Olympic Games in Rome, the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOC) decided, looking back at the experiences from Melbourne, that all the costs for getting the athletes to the Olympics should be paid for by the SOC. The various sports associations would no longer be allowed to send anyone at their own expense. The new rule was put to the test when the legendary journalist at the “Idrottsbladet", Torsten Tegnér, offered to pay for walker Lars Hindmar´s trip to Rome. Hindmar was involved in a feud with Lindé, the man in charge of the walkers, who hadn´t picked him for the team. The SOC´s working committee let the issue be decided by the financial delegates and the above mentioned Lindé was one of them! The answer was, you guessed it, no!
Things were happening at the international level as well. In the time before the Games in Rome, China left the Olympic family as a way of protesting against the decision of the IOC to recognize nationalist China in Taiwan. After China left the organization, IOC president Brundage considered the issue resolved and resisted every attempt to get China back into the organization for the rest of his presidency.
There were 85 countries at the opening ceremony. When Taiwan marched in they were carrying a sign that said “Protesting". They were protesting against being called Formosa instead of China.
This was also the last time South Africa was involved in the Olympics for a very long time due to its apartheid policies.
No More Swedish Domination Starting with these Summer Olympics, we´ll cover more of the international part of the Games. This is a natural step to take considering the fact that the Swedish successes and domination have now come to an end. The world of sports was becoming increasingly global, which made it harder for Sweden to stay ahead in the increasingly competitive field of sports.
But there were some Swedish highlights in Rome. Gert Fredriksson finished his incredible canoeing career at the age of 40 by taking the gold in K2 with a friend from his old club in Nyköping called Sven-Olof Sjödelius. Gert took his sixth Olympic gold by the narrowest margin imaginable - 18 hundredths of a second. This was also Sweden´s only gold medal in Rome!
40 minutes before his gold-winning race, he had paddled the final on the K1 1,000 meters. His winning streak had, not surprisingly, ended there and he had to settle for the bronze.
In the swimming, Sweden took six places in different finals and one medal. It was a very important medal for Swedish swimming.
Important Swimming SuccessJane Cederqvist, who was only 15, fought her way up to a silver medal position on the 400 m freestyle. It didn´t look good halfway into the race. Jane´s swimming lacked rhythm, but she found it during the last half and went from sixth place, after 200 meters, to second place.In 1960, there was only one heated 50-meter pool in Sweden, in Uppsala. But Jane´s silver medal race helped start the building of large swimming pools all around the country, which gave a boost to the swimming as a sport in Sweden.
Another silver medal went to 41-year-old (!) walker John Ljunggren who did a good job of portioning his energy in the heat.
The Games in Rome were also the breakthrough for the Olympics as TV-entertainment, at least in Sweden, and it brought us closer to and made us more interested in the big international stars. Many of them rose to stardom in Rome and went straight to the hearts of the Swedish people.
Perhaps the best like of them all was the sprinter queen of the Games, the American Wilma Rudolph, “the black gazelle", who so elegantly took the gold medals on the 100 m and 200 m as well as on the short relay.
It is noteworthy that the winner of the men´s 100 meters was fast starter Armin Hary from West Germany. This event had been dominated by the Americans, they had taken eleven out of 14 titles since 1896.
The race was an interesting one. Hary´s competitors made a false start on purpose on the first attempt in order to disturb the start specialist. The other attempt looked like a perfect start but the runners were called back after five meters. In the third attempt Hary had to play it safe, but in spite of this he was in the lead after 40 meters. Hary crossed the finish line after 10.2 seconds. The American Sime got the same time, but Hary was still the obvious winner.
Elliot Puts On A ShowThe 1,500 meter-race was, as usual, one of the big occasions in the athletics stadium. There wasn´t much of a struggle, the race was actually more of a display by the Australian Herb Elliot. Elliot won on the world record-breaking time of 3:35.6 after an exceptional 600-meter long spurt.
The Swede Dan Waern´s tactic was to stay right behind Elliot, but when the Australian changed the pace Waern couldn´t take it and ended up in seventh place before he worked his way up to fourth place after a very strong final lap.
“Stickan" Pettersson did well in the high jump again and took fifth place this time. Kjell-Åke Nilsson ended up in seventh place. In the women´s high jump, Inga-Britt Lorentzon made a good performance and took fifth place. 20 years later, her daughter Susanne carried on the tradition by competing in the high jump in Moscow.
When talking about athletics, we must not fail to mention the marathon winner Abebe Bikila from Ethiopia who ran barefoot. This victory also marked the beginning of Africa´s becoming an important continent in Olympic competitions.
And So Began the Story of ClayIn boxing, one of the world´s best and most talked about athletes of all times made his international debut - Cassius Clay. The 18-year-old won the light heavyweight and signed a professional contract right after the Games. He became heavyweight world champion four years later and subsequently took the name Mohammad Ali. He was also the one who lit the Olympic flame in Atlanta in 1996.
Rome also marked the beginning of a sad, and still unfinished, chapter of the history of sports - doping.
In the 10-kilometer team pursuit, the 23-year-old Danish cyclist Knud Enemark died. It was very hot and it was first reported that he had died of sunstroke. It later turned out that he had taken amphetamine pills in order to manage the fatigue better. At this time there were no rules regarding which substances were forbidden, but in the world of professional cycling people had been using amphetamine for some time. This tragic death was influential to the doping policies of future Olympic Games.