The 1952 Olympic Games were held in Helsinki, Finland. A record number of nations (69) and events (149) took place. Winner of nine gold medals, Paavo (The Flying Finn) Nurmi was chosen to carry the torch into the stadium and light the Olympic cauldron.
After a 40 years absence, the Soviets participated and Germany and Japan sent representatives to the Helsinki Games. A cold-war atmosphere dominated however and the Soviets set up a rival Olympic village for Eastern Bloc countries.
Emil Zatopek Emil was a soldier with the Czech Army and became the only man to win gold medals in the 5000 meters, the 10,000 meters, and the marathon in the same Olympiad. He set Olympic records in all these events and wore adidas spikes.
adidas removed the three stripes from their shoes for fear that Czech-born Zátopek would get into trouble with his country’s Communist government.
Marjorie ‘The Lithgow Flash’ Jackson wore handmade kangaroo leather spikes when she won gold in 100m and 200m to become the first Australian woman to do so. On her return to Australia, crowds thronged to cheer her from Sydney to her hometown Lithgow, 150 kilometres away.
Soviet Maria Gorokhovskaya was unhindered by the limits set on female competitors at earlier Games and set a record for most medals won by a woman in one Olympics, with two golds and five silvers.
A notable champion was Hungarian shooter Karoly Takacs, who won the rapid fire pistol event. Before World War II, Takacs, a right-hander, had been one of Europe’s finest shooters. But his right hand was completely shattered in a grenade explosion in 1938. Determined to continue competing, he taught himself to shoot left-handed, leading to his Olympic victory.
The divers complained about being distracted by a photographer who was dressed up in a frogman outfit and was taking photos of them from underwater. Women and civilians were allowed to compete in dressage.