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Tokyo 1964 - Overview

The first Games in Asia

The 1964 Games in Tokyo were the first on Asian soil and featured a number of performances by athletes who will be forever remembered in Olympic folklore.

However the failure of the hosts to land the prized judo heavyweight crown left a sour taste in the mouths of the Japanese and deprived them of a title they assumed winning was just a formality.

Judo had been specifically introduced in 1964 to appease the Japanese who consider the discipline their national sport.

But in front of an expectant and boisterous crowd, Dutch underdog Anton Geesink spoiled the party in the prized all-round category snatching the gold medal with a late victory at the expense of local favorite Akio Kaminaga.

It was an embarrassing setback, but not a complete disaster as Japan went on to win three other judo titles to combine with success in the gymnasium (five gold) and wrestling (five gold), which, put along with the prized women's volleyball gold medal placed the hosts third overall in the medal standings.

An honorable display from the hosts, but more importantly for the proud Japanese were the accolades showered down after the Games were classed as a rousing success.

The treble of Dawn Fraser

In the track and field competitions, there were a number of memorable performances.

American Bob Hayes blew away his rivals to take the 100 meter dash, while his compatriot Al Oerter threw himself into the another stratosphere taking the third of what would become four consecutive discus titles.

Peter Snell of New Zealand pulled off the rare feat of taking the 800m and 1500m crowns, Ethiopian Abebe Bikila successfully defended his marathon title won four years earlier in Rome, this time wearing shoes, while Soviet star Valeri Brumel leapt higher than the rest to take high jump gold.

The Olympic swimming pool was also host to some wonderful displays.

Don Schollander known as the "blond angel" thrashed his way to four gold medals (100m freestyle, 400m freestyle, two relays), but the title of "Queen of the Games" went to Aussie swimmer Dawn Fraser who won her third straight 100m freestyle title.

A closer look at the history books will also show the exploits of Czech gymnast Vera Caslavska who won three gold medals, while in the boxing ring, a certain fighter named Joe Frazier battered his way to the super-heavyweight title.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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