12 countries took part in these Games for which there were 80,000 spectators. The Americans dominated most of the athletics events (they won 9 out of the 15 events), while the Germans were superior in gymnastics, and the French in cycling. However the disappointment of the Greeks was soon forgotten when Spyros Louis managed to win the marathon.
Following the success of these first games, the Greek proposed that all subsequent Games were to take place in Greece. But this was not approved, and it was then agreed that the second Games were to be held in Paris as recognition of the hard work done by Baron de Coubertin.
These Games took part at the same time when the World Fair was being organized, and the organizers of this Fair, did all they could so that the Olympic Games would not steal the show. The Paris Games lasted 5 months, and because of this the interest in the Games were not high. No adequate sports stadia were built and the Games were held at the track of the Racing Club de France at the Bois de Boulogne. However the standard of the athletes was already getting better. Water polo was one of the sports in this edition.
The Americans also organized these Games to coincide with the World Fair. Only four countries from Europe took part in these Games (UK, France, Germany and Hungary). The Americans dominated these Games and there was the fear that there was not going to be any opposition except from Americans between themselves. The biggest number of spectators watching these Games was 2000.
Great Britain offered to organize these Games, after the Italians had announced that they would not be able to complete all the preparations in time. In less than one year, they built the White City Stadium in London, with a seating capacity of 100,000. The British launched a grand scale publicity campaign and managed to attract 1500 competitors from 19 countries to their Games, which were held under the patronage of the Royal Family.
The Opening Ceremony as we now know it, with the march past and all the contingents wearing their particular uniform, started with the London Games. These Games were a success and a happy atmosphere was felt throughout.
In the marathon race, for which it is estimated that about 250,000 people went to the streets to watch, the Italian, Dorando Pietri managed to arrive first at the WhiteCity stadium. However he soon fell down, exhausted. Some officials helped him to his feet, and after running another couple of meters, he fell down again. The doctors and other officials present did not resist assisting him to run to the finish, but needless to say, he was disqualified, and the race was won by the American Johnny Hayes. Dorando was later given a golden trophy by Queen Alexandra as a show of appreciation.
3100 Athletes from 18 countries took part in the Stockholm games, which were the biggest Games organized by then. During these Games Jim Thorpe had won two gold medals in the pentathlon and decathlon, but was later disqualified when it came to be known that he had been a professional baseball player, before he took part in the Games. For the first time, Swedish twins Erik and Wilhelm won a gold medal in the rowing, while a father and son team, Oscar and Alfred Swahn won gold in team shooting.
The 6th Edition of the Games was first awarded to Germany, but World War 1 broke out (1914 – 1918) and the new facilities purposely built in Grunewald had to remain unused. After the peace treaty, the 7th Olympic Games were held in Antwerp, but those countries, which emerged losers in this war, did not participate, and so did Russia, which did not take part in the Olympic Games before the Helsinki Games in 1952.
During these games the Finish athletes won 9 medals, as much as the Americans did. The most outstanding athlete in this edition was Poavo Nurmi, who in his brilliant career won 9 gold medals and set 24 world records.
The Games returned to Paris after 24 years, and this time, Baron Pierre de Coubertin was President of the IOC. The Paris Games demonstrated that the Olympic Games were growing and developing well, and 5,533 athletes from 54 countries took part.
Poavo Nurmi again was brilliant during these Games, and Hollywood’s’ character – Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller won 3 gold medals.
Malta’s debut in the Olympic Games. The IOC had already been discussing the possibility of organizing the Winter Olympic Games, and the first Winter Olympic Games were held in Chamonix in France in 1924. But since snow in Malta has not yet been discovered, we shall leave this aside.
During this edition, women were allowed to take part in track and field. However the 800 meters race raised a lot of discussion and polemics since it was considered as a very long distance. 36 years had to pass, before women could compete in distances of 800 meters and more.
But the Amsterdam Games hold a special meaning for us, and mainly because Malta took part in these Games for the first time. In spite of the fact that football was and remains the most popular sports in Malta, Malta participated with a water polo club.
The contingent included: Carmelo “Meme Busietta (captain), Turu Rizzo (who was already well know for his long distance swimming) H. Bonavia, E. Magri, L. Darmanin, V.F. Busietta, R. Fiorini Lowell, V.J. Pace (these were all Sliema United players) and R. Nappa of Valletta United and Captain Ugo Sammut as an interpreter and Mr. E. Busietta as a masseur.
Malta’s baptism of fire in the international sphere started very well and our team won their first match against Luxembourg 3 – 1, but our euphoria soon disappeared when they lost heavily against France (the eventual bronze medal winners) 16-0 and against the United States 8-0.
Malta did not participate in these Games. Of particular interest during these Games was the fact that it was the first time that there was a specifically built Olympic Village, where all the athletes were accommodated, and that the black American Athletes started doing very well and winning medals.
Malta’s second participation. The fact that the Olympic Games came closer to our shores, served for the re-awakening of the Malta Olympic Committee. Mr. A. Cassar Torregiani, the MOC President, requested Mr. Giorgio and Mr. Gracey to contact the German Olympic Committee as well as the International Olympic Committee and to complain about the fact that Malta had not yet received an official invitation to take part in the Games.
The German National Olympic Committee soon answered that Malta was not on its list of members, which was given to it by the IOC. On its part, the IOC answered that Malta was no longer considered a member of the IOC, since it had failed to pay its affiliation fee.
Many local athletes were disappointed with what was happening, and it was thought that the same problems encountered in 1928 with the IOC were going to be repeated. Circulars were sent to all sports associations to elect a new MOC Committee. At a meeting held on the 8th April 1936, a new committee was formed by:
President: Mr. A. Cassar Toreggiani
Vice President: Capt. H. Briffa
Secretary / treasurer: Mr. P. Giorgio
Members: Messers: L. J. Clark, J. H. Gracey, J. Attard Manche, E. J. Scicluna, A. C. Crockford, E. J. Cuschieri and Coll. V. Micallef
The main task the Committee had was to write to the International Olympic Committee, informing that the MOC had been set up since 1928, and to reapply or reactivate its membership.
This time the MOC did not wait for any answers from the IOC, and preparations started immediately. The competitors who were to be chosen had to start training hard and regularly. A campaign to raise the sum of Lm700 was launched.
The Government donated the sum of Lm300 on condition that the fundraising committee would raise another Lm300 through its activities. Up till the 20th May, the MOC had not received any answer from the IOC, and the committee sent a telegram informing that Malta was eagerly awaiting a decision.
A positive reply was soon received from both the IOC and the German Olympic Committee who soon after sent an official invitation. Malta informed that it wished to participate with athletics and water polo.
Now the MOC could focus better on the preparation of the Maltese athletes, and in particular the water polo team. The ASA suggested to rope in Filippo Schembri, who used to play with the Sirenes – Tritons of Tunis, but who was of Maltese nationality and a British citizen, and therefore eligible to play for Malta. The idea was that Filippo would train the Maltese side and at the same time form part of the team.
Mr. Attard was sent to Tunis to convince Filippo to come and train and play for Malta. Filippo accepted, and when he arrived a week later, the Maltese players were so pleased that they started training even harder.
The Germans were determined to organize the best Games ever, and started asking many questions so as to make the athletes stay at the Olympic Village a happy one. When asked what kind of diet the Maltese athletes preferred, a lot of surprises came out.
The Maltese contingent left our shores on the 24th July 1936 on board the Mohamed Eli el Kebir, with Mr. P. Giorgio as Chef de Mission, Mr. J. Attard as swimming section leader, Mr. G., Craig, assistant leader, Mr. E. Scicluna, leader for athletics, Mr. W. F. M. Cook (RAF) masseur and trainer for athletics and Dr. J. Sammut, doctor. The contingent also included Mr. A. Cassar Torregiani, A. J. Bencini and P.E. Pace (for athletics) and J. Demicoli, J. Frendo Azzopardi, A. Lanzon, F. Wismayer, F. Schembri, A. Podesta, W. Podesta, S. Scott, J. Chetcuti, C. Parlato and J. F. Albanese for Waterpolo.
During these Games, Malta marched behind the Union Jack.
Austin Cassar Torregiani raced in the same heat as Jesse Owens in the 100 mts. When the athletes were digging their foothold in the ground (there were no starting blocks then) Jesse Owens went to Austin, and told him “Hello buddy, we’re running in the same heat”. Austin says, that he felt like his death sentence had just been proclaimed. He managed to finish in the 4th place of that heat, but did not make it to the finals.
The water polo team won some friendly matches before the Olympic Games, and this proved to be to their detriment during the Olympic Games. First they lost 8 – 1 against Germany in a friendly match (who won silver). They were very demoralized now, and they were easily beaten 8- 2 by Britain, 12 – 0 against Hungry (who won gold) and 7 – 0 against Yugoslavia.
During these Games, the Germans revived the ceremony of the lighting of the flame at Olympia, and decided also that the winners be awarded a wreath of laurels as well as the medals.
To the disappointment of Hitler, Jesse Owens, a black American won 4 gold medals.
The 1940 and 1944 Games were not held because of World War 2
Baron Pierre de Coubertin died in 1937 and according to his will; his heart was buried in Olympia in Greece.
The most outstanding athletes in these Games was the Dutch woman Mrs. Francina (Fanny) Blankers–Koen, who was nicknamed as the flying Dutchwoman and the Czechoslovak Emile Zatopek.
Malta was still shattered after the war, and little did one think of the Olympic Games. Even when the official invitation was received from the British Olympic Committee, there was no interest, except from the Malta football Association, which however was facing so many problems, that they soon withdrew their interest.
It seemed then that Malta was not going to take part in these Games, and then Mr. Gracey proposed Nestor Diacono, who was doing quite well in athletics. He managed to stop the watch at 10.05 for the 100 yards, and this was considered very good. On the 9th July 1948, Mr. Nestor Jacono accompanied by Chef de Mission Mr. Manduca and Mr. F. X. Zammit Cutajar as manager left to London. Mr. Jacono was therefore the first Maltese athlete to travel by plane to the Olympic Games.
Jacono spent 15 days training under a Canadian Coach before his event, and of course he was very excited about this marvelous experience. The correspondent of the daily Telegraph described the scene at the Opening ceremony “ Amongst all the contingents, two persons (F.X. Zammit as flag bearer in front of Nestor Jacono) from the Island of the George Cross – the Maltese team which consists of only one athlete, were applauded enthusiastically and shouts of “Brave Malta’ could be heard from all around.
Nestor, was warned for a false start, and eventually did not do very well.
These were named as the Friendly Games. Russia made a come back to these Games after an absence of 40 years. These Games however can also be called as the Games of Zatopek. Both he and his wife won gold medals in the Helsinki Games, and thus making them the first husband and wife to win medals in the same Games.
Melbourne won the bid to host these Games by one vote, and many were not convinced that this was a good idea to hold them in this part of the world. 1956 remains known in history for two sad events – the Suez Canal crises, and the Revolution in Hungary. Holland refused to take part, and instead they donated the sum of L10.000 in favour of the Hungarian refugees, while Spain, Egypt and Lebanon refused to take part. IOC President, Avery Brundage warned, that the Olympic Games are held between individuals and not amongst nations, and no one should use the Games for political purposes. To complicate matters for the Organising Committee, the Australian Government, did not want to budge on the question of quarantine, and therefore, arrangements were soon made in order that the Equestrian Competitions were transferred to Stockholm.
The Australian stars in these Games were Betty Cuthbert and Shirley Strickland (de la Hunty).
The Rome Games were a success in more ways then one. Amongst the most outstanding performances, the Australian Herb Eliott’s 1500 in 3.35.6 remains one of the most interesting races ever, as well as the unexpected win of Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia who ran the marathon bare footed and setting a world record of 2.15.162
Drugs in Sport claimed its first victim – Danish cyclist Knud Jensen.
Cassius Clay won gold in the lightweight category.
The Maltese Contingent. Malta participated in Rome with Cycling, Swimming, Shooting and Sailing (in Naples). Malta also took part in the football preliminaries, but was eliminated in Morocco. (2-2 in Malta and 1 –2 away) and 0 – 0 in Malta against Tunis, and 0 –2 away. Mr. Joe Griffiths was the coach for Malta.
The first to compete were the swimmers, and they did not do very well.
In cycling we finished last. In the individual races, Camilleri was not allowed to compete because he was suffering from a bad tooth. Bugeja stopped after 24 kilometers because of troubles with his bicycle gears. He was given another bicycle, which however was too large for him. Polidano gave up half way through the race.
In shooting we did a bit better, but no satisfactory results were achieved.
In sailing, the Maltese had to borrow their boats. The Ripard brothers competed in the Star class, while Borda and Formosa raced in the Finn Class. Here again it was clear that the Maltese were not really prepared for these Games and the results were very disappointing.
Mr. Lewis Portelli was invited to Rome to comment and broadcast live on Rediffusion about the Olympic Games. In Malta there was record sales of TV sets.
Bye far these were the best games ever. Australian Daen Fraser (27 years old) won the 100m freestyle. Dutch Judoka, Anton Geesing was the only stranger to win a gold medal in the sport in which the Japanese believed that was theirs and theirs only.
The high altitude where Mexico City lies, caused some problems, but still a number of records were broken. The hero of these Games was the black American Bob Boston who broke the long jump record by over 2 feet. American Dick Fosbury used a new technique for his high jump. This technique is still called the Fosbury Flop Malta was represented with one shooter, Mr. Peppi Grech who finished in the 46th place out of 52 competitors. The Chef de Mission was Mr. Louis Grasso.
Nicknamed the Computer Games for the way everything worked with such an unprecedented precision. Mark Spitz won 7 gold medals.
But these Games will always be remembered for the “Tragedy of Munich”. On the 5th September 1972, on the 11th day of the Games, 8 members of the Black September Group attacked and killed two Israelite athletes at the athletes village and later another 9 who were taken as hostages. All the events were immediately suspended and postponed for 24 hours.
Malta participated with cycling and shooting. The Maltese contingent included Mr. Carm Borg, Chef-de-Mission, L. Bezzina, J. Magri, J. Said, Peppi Grech, A. Caruana, J. Bugeja, and A. Tonna.
The cyclists took part in the team time trials, and managed to beat Iran, Cameron, Thailand and Malaysia to finish in the 31st place out of 35 countries.
Peppi Grech, competing for his third time in the Olympic Games, finished 56th out of 62 competitors.
Politics continue to weaken the Olympics. These were the first Games under the Presidency of Lord Killanin. The expenses for these Games were three times those budgeted. China asked Canada not to allow Taiwan to compete. Canada accepted but this was not enough. 18 African countries and another 5 Arab countries, led by Tunisia, withdrew from the Games.
Lasse Viren can be considered as the best athlete of these Games, and he repeated his Munich successes, and won again the 5000metres and 10000 metres.
Malta wins 11th place in shooting. The Americans boycotted the Games. In 1970, Russia invaded Afghanistan and the President of America; Jimmy Carter appealed all nations who were not under a communist government to boycott the Games.
Malta participated for the 7th time in the Olympic Games with Shooting, Archery and Cycling. The Maltese contingent included:
MOC Officials: C. Borg, President MOC, Chef de Mission Mr. Bertie Muscat. Athletes and Officials: J. Schembri, J. Agius, L. Portelli, L. Vella, N. Abela, J.Bugeja, J. Magri, A. Micallef, A. Tonna, J. Farrugia, C. Muscat, Ms. Joanna Agius was the first Maltese female competitor to participate in the Olympic Games.
Laurence Vella, the son of Wenzu Vella who had participated in the Rome Olympic Games, managed to finish in the 11th place in the final classification. He shot, 20 – 23, 23, 25, 25 and 25, 24, and 24 for a total of 189 – just 9 clays behind the Gold winner. Frans Chetcuti hit 179 clays and finished in the 28th place from 34 competitors.
Joanna Agius finished in the 28th place out of 29 competitors while Leo Portelli finished last from 38 participants.
In Cycling, Malta competed in the team time trials and in the individual event. Malta finished in the 20th position from 23 nations, beating Libya, Cameroon and Ethiopia.
The individual event was really a hard one and from the 161 cyclists who started the race, only 53 finished. None of the Maltese Cyclists finished the race.
PETER BONELLO wins Malta 9th place in boardsailing. The Communists boycott the Games. Malta participated with athletes in Board Sailing, Archery, Athletics, Wrestling and Shooting.
The Maltese contingent included:
MOC Officials: Mr. Carm Borg, Head of Delegation, Mr. Bertie Muscat, Secretary General, Mr. E. Caruana – Chef de Mission.
The Athletes and Officials:
Shooting: Frans Chetcuti, Mr. M. Gauci, Mr. V. Galea in charge of shooting. Athletics: Jennifer Pace, Mr. G.Zammit in charge of Athletics. Board Sailing: Peter Bonello, Jean Paul Fleri Soler, Mr. G. Busuttil and Mr. J. Rausi in charge of board sailing. Wrestling: Jesmond Giordemaina, A Zammit, Mr. Carm Camilleri in charge of Wrestling. Archery: Joanna Agius, Mr. T. Cauchi in charge of archery.
The result of Peter Bonello is definitely the best result that Malta every managed in the Olympic Games finishing in the 11th place out of 39 competitors. In two of his races, he placed 3rd and 7th. Jean Paul Fleri Soler was reserve. Jennifer broke the Maltese javelin record by more than 2 meters, but anyhow, finished last from the 13 athletes taking part in this event. In shooting, Michael Gauci and Frans Chetcuti finished in the 48th and 51st place out of 71 competitors.
In Wrestling, Jesmond Giordemaina won his first bout against Wei-Ki Lou of Taiwan, but then lost his two other bouts against Korea and Turkey and finished in the 12th position out of 17 competitors.
Alex Zammit lost his two bouts and finished last with a number of others who also did not win any bouts. Joanna Agius placed 41st out of 47 competitors.
The Maltese contingent led by flag bearer Joanna Agius, who represented Malta for the third successive time and led by Mr. Bertie Muscat, Chef-de-Mission.
Malta participated in Archery, Wrestling, Board Sailing, and Judo.
The Maltese contingent included:
MOC Officials: Mr. Carm Borg, President MOC, Mr. Bertie Muscat – Chef de Mission, Mr. Philip Vassallo – MOC Official
The Athletes and Officials:
Judo: Jason Trevisan, Mr. Godfey Bezzina – Judo Official, Wrestling: Jesmond Giordemaina, P. Farrugia, and Mr. Carm Camilleri – Wrestling Official, Archery: Joanna Agius, Mr. T. Cauchi – Archery Official. Board Sailing: Jean Paul Fleri Soler, Simon. Gatt, Mr. Joe Bugeja – Board Sailing Official, Mr. E. Zarb Cousin – boatman.
The results of the Maltese athletes were not good and the best result was that of Jean Paul Fleri Soler, who though racing on a new board, finished 35th out of 45th competitors.
The Maltese contingent was led by flag bearer Laurie Pace and by Louis Borg, Chef-de-Mission at the Montijuc Olympic Stadium in Barcelona. 172 countries took part in what were probably the best Games ever organized.
Malta took part in Athletics, Shooting, Judo, and Boardsailing.
The Maltese contingent included:
MOC Officials: Magistrate Dr. Gino Camilleri – President, Mr. Bertie Muscat – Secretary General, Mr. Louis Borg – Chef de Mission, Mr. Joseph Cassar – Ass. Chef de Mission, Mr. Philip Vassallo – MOC Official
The Athletes and Officials:
Athletics: Deirdre Caruana 100m and 200m; Carol Galea – 800m, 1500; Mr. Joe Bajada – official. Shooting: Horace Micallef 30th place out of 54 nations; Mr. Robert Mikoulenko – official. Judo: Laurie Pace – eliminated in first round; Jason Trevisan – eliminated in first round, Mr. Alex Bezzina – official, Mr. Angelo Beltracchini – coach. Board Sailing: Jean Paul Fleri Soler – 33rd place out of 44 competitors; Nigel Rausi – reserve and pacer; Mr. Benny Grech – official
Mr. Bertie Muscat was awarded the Olympic Award by H. E. Juan Antonio Samaranch for his long years of continuous service to the Olympic Movement.
The Centennial Games
Shooter Frans Pace finished in 20th position
Malta took part in Athletics, Judo, Board Sailing, Shooting and Swimming.
The Maltese contingent included:
MOC Officials: Magistrate Dr. Gino Camilleri – President, Mr. Joseph Cassar – Secretary General, Mr. Philip Psaila – Chef de Mission, MOC Officials: Mag. Lino Farrugia Sacco, Mr. Peter Tortell, Dr. John Buhagiar – Doctor, Mr. Mario Galea.
The Athletes and Officials:
Athletics: Carol Galea – marathon – dnf; Mario Bonello – 100m – 88th out of 106, Mr. Charles Pullicino – Official; Judo: Laurie Pace – lost her two fights, Mr. Serguei Telliok – coach; Sailing: Andrew Wilson – board sailing – best placing was 27th and finished 38th out of 46, John Tabone – laser – at one time 24th place, but finished 41st out of 56 competitors, Mr. George Bonnici – official. Shooting: Frans Pace – 20th out of 52, Mr. Peter Croft – coach. Swimming: Gail Rizzo 100m free – last; 100m back – 2nd in her heat and 33rd out of 36, 50 free – 4th in heat – 50th out of 55, Prof. Goethe – coach.
The IOC and Freedom Forum invited Mr. Lewis Portelli as a journalist.
Malta took part in Athletics, Swimming, Judo, Shooting, and Sailing.
The Maltese contingent consisted of:
Hon. Jesmond Mugliett, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education.
MOC Officials: Mr. Justice Lino Farrugia Sacco – President, Mr. Joe Cassar – Secretary General, Mr. Philip Psaila – Director of Sport, Mr. Bertie Muscat – Deputy President, Mr. Peter Tortell – Director of Finance, Prof. Angelo Psaila, Dr. Kirill Micallef Stafrace – Medical Officer, Mr. Charles Camenzuli – Ass. Sec. Gen/Media Officer.
The Athletes and Officials:
Athletics: Mario Bonello – 100m, Susanne Spiteri – 100m, Mr. Donato Sabia – Coach. Swimming: John Tabone – 400m, Angela Galea – 100m butterfly, Mr. Atilla Selmeci – Coach. Judo: Laurie Pace – 57 kgs, Mr. Sergei Teliouk – Coach. Shooting: Frans Pace – Trap, Mr. Peter Croft – Coach. Sailing: Mario Aquilina – Laser Class, Mr. Peter Valentino – Coach, Mr. Andreas John – Asst. Coach.
The Malta Olympic contingent of athletes, coaches and officials, left for Athens early on Wednesday morning aboard an Air Malta aircraft.
Leading the contingent was Mr Justice Lino Farrugia Sacco, president of the Malta Olympic Committee (MOC). Air Malta has just renewed its support for the MOC and was appointed as the MOC’s official airline.
Among the athletes were Angela Galea (100m Butterfly), Neil Agius (400m Freestyle), Marcon Bezzina (-57kg Judo), Tanya Blake (800m Athletics) and Darren Gilford (100m Athletics). William Chetcuti (Double Trap), Mario Aquilina (Sailing Laser Class) and Chef-de-Mission Marie Therese Zammit left Malta earlier in the month and greeted the Malta contingent on their arrival at the Olympic Village.