The 1952 Helsinki Olympics saw a record 69 nations participate. The Soviet Union made their debut (there was a Russian team at the Olympics up to 1912) winning 22 gold medals and displaying strength in weightlifting, wrestling and gymnastics.
4,955 (4,436 men, 519 women) competitors from 69 nations participated in 17 sports and 149 events over 2 weeks. United States won the gold medal tally with 40.
Since Finland reigned as a leading power in athletics, it was to everyone’s delight that its greatest Olympian, the Flying Finn Paavo Nurmi, a winner of 9 gold medals, lit the Olympic Cauldron with fellow athlete Hannes Kolehmainen. Czech runner Emil Zatopek completed a treble that is unlikely ever to be repeated at an Olympics, winning the 5000m, 10,000m and marathon. As well, his wife Dana won a gold medal in the javelin, cementing their standing as their nation’s golden couple. Australia’s Marjorie Jackson, known as ‘the Lithgow Flash’, also starred with her sensational sprint double, winning the 100m and 200m.
Interesting Points: Hungarian shooter Karoly Takacs, who won the rapid fire pistol event had been one of Europe’s finest right-handed shooters before WWII. But his right hand was completely shattered in a grenade explosion in 1938. He taught himself to shoot left-handed and won Gold.
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