Australian Coverage of the Olympics through History, Pt 1

I’ve gone through the archives, using Trove, to find Australian newspaper coverage of the Olympics, proving, even in 1896, we didn’t care about anything but the Australians.

1896

The Olympic Games, which were formally opened at Athens by the King of Greece on the 6th, were continned [sic] yesterday in the presence of a great concourse of people. E. H. Flack, the Victorian athlete, won the 1500 metres race, covering the distance in 4 minutes 33 seconds. (The Maitland Daily Mercury, Apr 9 1896, p3)1908

The Canadian Olympic Committee are paying the expenses of 19 athletes to represent the Dominion at the Olympic Games in London…More then 1,200 entries have been recieved for the International Olympic Games. These are held at intervals of four years. Athens, Paris, and St. Louis have been the scene of the last three series, and this year they are to take place in London… (Observer [Adelaide], Jun 20 1908, p34)

1912

Following are the positions of the various countries in the Olympic sports to date. It will be seen that America is in the lead with Australia low down in the list:- America, 115; Sweeden [sic], 78; Great Britain, 53; Germany, 28; Finland, 27; France, 19; South Africa and Denmark, 11; Norway, 10; Italy and Australia, 9; Canada and Hungary, 8; Greece, 4; Russia, Belgium, and Austria, 3; Holland, 2.

The Great Marathon Race, the classic event of the Olympic games, was decided on Saturday.

The finish was a close and most exciting one.


McArthur staggered to the tape completely done, and with just a minute to spare from Gusham, who himself as a minute ahead of the American. (The Tamworth Daily Observer, Jul 18 1912, p4)

1920

Now that the Olympic games have begun at Antwerp, we should be hearing something soon of the doings of Gerald Patterson and R. V. Thomas, who are representing Australia officially. They will play together in doubles, and know each others play well, having played together in England last year. (Weekly Times [Melbourne], Aug 21 1920, p24)

1924

The amount of interest displayed in the doings of the Australian continent has been remarkable, in spite of the fact that we never looked like being more than a small fish in the pool, and had the misfortune to have Carr practically a breakdown [sic] before his events came off. The pedestrian and athletic events found the Australians very largely undertrained and unseasoned to the European climate. Nevertheless, they put in some splendid work in their attempts to break records and achieve world championships. (Bunyip [Gawler], Jul 18 1924, p2)

1928

The attention of the sportsmen of the world will be held during the next few days by the progress of the Olympic games at Amsterdam. Every four years, athletes of all nations thus meet in friendly contest; and, although the Games may have fallen short of the high purpose conceived by the founders, they have been a powerful agency in promoting mutual understanding and mutual respect. (The Register [Adelaide], Jul 31 1928, p8)

Australia’s chief place on the map in the international sports will doubtless be taken by the brilliant and wonderful swimmer, Boy Charlton, to whom Arne Borg referred in terms of admiration as “that Australian devil, you never know what he will do.” … The wonderful running of Nurmi, the almost magical Swede [actually a Finn], is again attracting attention. (Bunyip [Gawler], Aug 3 1928, p4)

1932

At the Olympic Games, Crabbe (United States) won the final of the 400 metres free-style swim in the remarkable time of 4m, 48 2-5s. Although he was unplaced, Andrew Charlton (Australia) covered the distance in 4m, 58 3-5s., which was faster than the old Olympic record. (The Inverell Times, Aug 12 1932, p2)

At the Olympic Games at Los Angeles on Saturday, G. Golding, Australia’s hope in the 400 metres hurdle, was eliminated in his semi-final after running third in his heat. Olympic records were established in several events and Mildred Diddrirson created a woman’s world record in the javelin throw. There was an early sensation when it was announced that Paavo Nurmi, who had been disqualified by the International Federation, declared that he was going to defy the authorities and run in the marathon. (The Northern Champion [Taree], Aug 3 1932, p2)

1936

The eleventh Olympic Games opened on Saturday with a spectacular demonstration of the German genius for organisation. The dominant impression of foreign visitors was that of a nation of efficiency in uniform. (The Scone Advocate, Aug 4 1936, p2)

The Olympic Games at Berlin continue to attract world-wide interest, but Australia’s efforts so far have been a complete washout. So far our representatives have failed to win an event, and even where they have won a preliminary, their showing in the after heats has been disappointing…The performances of the American negro representatives in the pedestrian events continue to be a feature of the contests. Jesse Owens established a new Olympic record for 200 metres when he won a heat in 21 1-0s…It is pleasing to able to congratulate New Zealand on a win, as J. E. Lovelock won the final of the 1500 metres in 3m. 47 4-5s. (The Australian Worker [Sydney], Aug 12 1936, p12)

To be continued after World War II

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