The first ever Torch Relay. These games occurred during the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany – they attract great interest from scholars, researchers and academics because they acted as a meeting point of many things: sport & politics, good & evil, integrity & propaganda, individual skill & national fervour.
3,963 (3,632 men, 331 women) competitors from 49 nations participated in 19 sports and 129 events over 2 weeks. Germany won the gold medal tally with 33 gold medals.
An innovation of the 1936 Games was the Torch Relay, now a popular Olympic tradition. The torch was lit in Olympia, Greece, and travelled through seven countries in less than a fortnight before reaching Berlin for the Opening Ceremony.
Basketball and canoe/kayak were introduced in Berlin, as was outdoor handball, which would next appear at the Games as an indoor sport in 1972. Doctor James Naismith, who invented basketball in 1881, was in Berlin to see his sport’s Olympic debut. Marjorie Gestring, a 13-year-old American, won the women’s springboard diving event – she remains the youngest women’s gold medallist in Olympic history. Jesse Owens, an African-American won 4 gold medals and destroyed Hitler’s hopes of proving his Germanic “superior race” propaganda.
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