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London 1948 - Quick hits


Marie Provaznikova, head of the Czechoslovakian gymnastics team and gold-medal winner in the team event, made history by becoming the first athlete to profit from the Games and defect to the West. She later explained that her decision was based on the "lack of freedom" in her country since the Communist takeover of Prague in February that year.

The flying housewife

Dutch mother-of-three Fanny Blankers-Koen, 30, became a household name, and an icon for all sporting mothers, with an amazing haul of four gold medals (100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and 4x100m relay).


Etienne Gailly of Belgium was first to enter the stadium in the marathon, but was on the verge of exhaustion. Despite encouragement from the spectators, Gailly began to stagger and was overtaken by Argentina's Delfo Cabrera and Britain's Thomas Richards. He finally wobbled over the line in third place.


Czech runner Emil Zatopek began to construct his legendary career by winning the 10,000m by more than 50 seconds and finishing second in the 5,000. He won the 10,000m race in regulation distance despite the fact the judges rang the bell one lap early.

Food shortage

Because of the rationing implemented in Great Britain following the war, the Americans made sure of their own provision by bringing 24 tons of beef, six tons of veal, six tons of pork, six tons of lamb, 36 tons of cheese, 12 tons of sugar and 25,000 bars of chocolate.


Shortly before the start of one of the 100m backstroke qualifying rounds, a Pakistani swimmer removed his dressing gown and noticed that he had forgotten to put on his swimming costume. To hide his shame, and his nudity, he jumped into the pool -- prompting the judges to disqualify him -- a logical decision, given that the event was the backstroke.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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