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Munich 1972 - Overview

Munich hit by deadly terrorists

Munich played host to the infamous 1972 Olympic Games where Palestinian guerillas kidnapped and murdered eleven members of the Israeli delegation.

The drama began on September 5th just six days before the end of the Games when eight members of the "Black September" group killed two Israelis and took another nine hostage at the Olympic village.

The competition was suspended and negotiations began.

After eleven hours of anguish German authorities persuaded Black September to move to a military airport where a plane was to whisk them off to Cairo.

However, the German police tried to storm the gang at the airport and a bloodbath ensued in which all the hostages, five of the terrorists, one policeman and a helicopter pilot were all killed.

The world was in shock but IOC president Avery Brundage declared famously "the Games must go on" and on they went, albeit under a dark cloud of mourning.

Before the globally televised horror show, the Games had produced some highly memorable sporting moments although these events will be forever overshadowed.

Spitz in seventh heaven

American swimmer Mark Spitz pulled off a veritable gold heist with his seven wins, each one of them setting a world record. His gold medals came in the 100 and 200m freestyle, the 100 and 200m butterfly, the 4x100m relay, the 4x200m relay and the 4x100m medley relay.

Spitz's phenomenal haul overshadowed 15-year-old Australian sensation Shane Gould. She might normally have expected to have been the star of the show after her wins in the 200m and 400m free-style and in the 200m medley.

The athletics performances fell short of the brilliant ones from Mexico City but as ever the racing produced drama and heroes.

The Soviets bagged the 100m and 200m sprints thanks to the efforts of Valery Borzov who crossed the 100m finish line with his arms aloft.

Finland's Lasse Viren won the 5000m and the 10000m and Kenya's Kip Keino was in action again winning the 3000m steeplechase.

And in the basketball final the US thought they had won gold and had already started celebrating when the referee ordered a further three seconds to be played.

To the horror of the Americans, their Soviet opponents swept down the court for a dramatic last-second basket snatching the gold and providing heart-break for their arch-rivals.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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