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Stockholm 1912 - Overview

The first great Olympic success

The 1912 Games in Stockholm were, in comparison to the first faltering steps of the previous events, a success.

This was mainly because of a number of welcome changes. For the first time, athletes from five continents took part in the Games, and the events took place over a shorter period of time, just more than two months.

The Games also were independent in that they were no mere appendage to a larger event or commercial exposition.

One of the great stars was Finland's Hannes Kolehmainen, who won the 5,000-meter run, the 10,000 and the cross country race to establish a great tradition of Nordic middle-distance dominance that lasted up until World War II.

A number of American athletes also lit up the Games and helped their nation nip Sweden in the medals count with 25 gold medals to the hosts' 24.

Duke crawls to gold

Hawaian swimmer Duke Kahanamoku, also widely acknowledged for popularizing surfing, eased toward the 100-meter freestyle gold with his innovation, the front crawl.

American sprinter Ralph Craig romped to double gold in the 100 and 200 events, and his compatriot Jim Thorpe won the pentathlon and the decathlon.

Thorpe, however, was found to have violated amateur-status rules, was stripped of his medals and was blacklisted. It was not until 1982 that he was posthumously reinstated.

Several events were featured for the last time (including the standing long and high jumps and the two-handed hammer and discus), while boxing, banned in Sweden at the time, was temporarily sidelined.

The Games were a great success for the International Olympic Committee and its founder, Pierre de Coubertin.

However, many were saddened by the death of Portuguese marathon runner Francisco Lazaro, who collapsed during the race due to heat exhaustion.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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