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Helsinki 1952 - Quick hits

Sweet revenge

Finnish legend, Paavo Nurmi had the honour of running into the arena with the Olympic torch. Banned by the IOC on the eve of the Games in Los Angeles 20 years earlier (for accusations of professionalism), Nurmi made a triumphant return to the stage on which he made his name as one of the all-time greats of long-distance running.


Finnish gymnast, Heikki Savolainen who recited the Olympic oath won a bronze medal in the team event - 24 years after his first medal, a bronze in the pommel horse in Amsterdam in 1928. In 1932 and 1936, he won five other medals - one silver and four bronze.


Humourous American minister Bob Richards, who won the pole vault title, was quick to remark: "I am the only priest in the world who is using his own means to get to heaven".

Boxing controversy

The heavyweight boxing final was reduced to a farce. Sweden's Ingemar Johansson who was in the process of taking a beating from American Edward Sanders, opted to run around the ring in order to avoid his opponent. He was disqualified for his antics and stripped of the silver medal. Johansson went on to become world champion in 1959 and was finally awarded his medal 30 years later.


Germany were not invited to the London Games in 1948 following World War II but did return in Helsinki. Although they officially appeared as a unified nation, nearly all their athletes were from West Germany.


The father of Frenchman Jean Boiteux who won gold the 400m freestyle was so overjoyed by his son's achievement he threw himself fully dressed into the pool following the race to celebrate the historic occasion.

Peaceful attempt

During the opening ceremony, efforts on the part of young German athlete, Barbara Rotbraut-Pleyer, to reach the podium to read a message of peace, were thwarted by the Finnish IOC member Eric von Frenckell.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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