• Stockholm 1912

Stockholm 1912 - Key Moments

ESPN staff
October 12, 2011
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Jim Thorpe won gold in the decathlon © PA Photos
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 popularising 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.

Hannes Kolehmainen: The Flying Finn
Even if he was less known than his compatriot Paavo Nurmi, Finn Hannes Kolehmainen created his own niche in Olympic history with four gold medals, three of which he earned in middle distance events during the 1912 Stockholm Games.

Kolehmainen achieved these spectacular results following an innovative and professional period of training (notably, with help from a psychologist), which would not have been possible without the financial help of his brother, a professional athlete in the United States.

On July 7, at the height of his form, he began what turned out to be an impressive string of victories, first winning the 10,000-metre qualifier in 33 minutes, 49 seconds.

The next day, he won the 10,000 final for the first Finnish medal of the Games. Despite the energy-sapping heat, Kolehmainen covered the distance in an impressive 31:20.8.

Epic duel
Forty-eight hours later, he recorded a time of 15:34.6 in the preliminary rounds of the 5,000, but he was not as quick as France's Jean Bouin, who set a new Olympic record with a time of 15:05.

On July 10, the anticipated final of the 5,000 produced one of the epic duels of the Olympic Games - Kolehmainen and Bouin passed each other 16 times.

Twenty-five meters from the finish line, Kolehmainen, encouraged by the public, made a move Bouin was unable to counter, and Kolehmainen won his second gold medal.

In doing so, he became the youngest world record holder in the 5,000 with a time of 14:36.6.

After also beating the 3,000 world record in those preliminary rounds, the Finn pulled out of the final for scheduling reasons - although he went on to take another gold medal in the individual cross country event and a silver in the team cross country event.

The Flying Finn once again illustrated his ability at the 1920 Games in Antwerp by winning the marathon title.

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