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1952 Helsinki: the Cold War Comes to the Olympics | Sports News



By WILL GRAVES, AP Sports Writer

The United States and the Soviet Union formed an uneasy pact to help turn back Nazi Germany during World War II. Less than a decade later, most global events were seen as part of the Cold War between the two super powers, including the Olympics.

The Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland set a record for countries (69) and participants (nearly 5,000), numbers boosted by the USSR’s first appearance in the games as a communist nation. The Soviets felt winning medals — and blocking the Americans in the process — could boost their profile on the world stage while espousing the superiority of their way of life.

In 1951, the USSR produced the equivalent of $8.2 billion in today’s money on sports equipment. It was part of an effort designed to, not just close the gap on the Americans, but surpass them.

They nearly did. The U.S. topped the medal table with 76 thanks to dominance in track, followed closely by the Soviets’ 71 thanks to a serious haul on the wrestling mat. The competition began an athletic tug-of-war at the world’s largest sporting event that continues seven decades later. Either the Americans or the Russians have finished with the most medals at each of the last 17 Summer Olympics, the U.S. doing it nine times and their counterparts eight.

The USSR was still a mystery to much of the world in 1952. Details of the country’s athletic progress were sketchy in the West. Reports of world records and eye-popping performances all came from the highly-filtered government-controlled media. The decision for all Soviet bloc nations to live in an Olympic village separate from Western nations only deepened the mystery.

Then the USSR surprisingly invited Westerners — including Americans — to enter the communist Olympic Village. The Soviets even hosted a swanky dinner for members of the U.S. Olympic delegation replete with vodka and whitefish caught in the Volga River, toasting goodwill under paintings of Joseph Stalin and the Politburo.

“We can’t reciprocate,” an unnamed American official told The Associated Press. “We simply don’t have the money.”

The Americans did hold onto their edge in the medal standings, but just barely. And over the course of two weeks in a city less than 500 miles from the Arctic Circle, the Soviets sent a very loud message that they were very much ready to challenge the U.S. for global athletic supremacy.

Of course, back in the USSR, it would have been easy to think the country had dominated every event. When three Russian women took gold, silver and bronze in the discus, it was front-page news in Moscow. The stories, by the way, carried no mention of American Walt Davis winning gold in the high jump or that U.S. runner Charlie Moore’s world record in the 400-meter hurdles.

The breakout star of the Games wasn’t an American or a Soviet. It was a 29-year-old staff captain in the Czech Republic Army who ran as if he was in deep agony and his next step would be his last.

Yet Emil Zatopek cared little about form or even proper running decorum while winning the 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters and the marathon, a race he’d never run before he set an Olympic and World record by covering the 26.2-mile distance in 2:23:03. Early on in the marathon Zatopek asked British runner Jim Peters if his pacing was right. When Peters told Zatopek it was, Zatopek took off and cruised to victory by more than 2 1/2 minutes.

Zatopek — whose wife Dana Zatopkova won gold in the javelin — blew off the media after the race and headed back to the Olympic village for a nap.

American Bob Mathias was just 17 when he won the decathlon at the 1948 London Olympics. He stamped himself as the world’s greatest athlete at age 21 when he defended his gold medal by posting a record score of 7,887 points over two days and 10 events in Helsinki. He then promptly retired.

“This is for sure,” Mathias said. “There’s nothing left.”

Maybe on the track, but not in life. Mathias went on to dabble in acting before serving four terms as a Republican Congressman representing California’s 18th district, just south of the Bay Area.

Long before hi-tech swimsuits and dolphin kicks became a thing, the pool at the 1952 Games showcased just how fast the sport was progressing.

During the modest-sized meet — there were only 11 events compared to 34 at the 2016 Summer Olympics — eight Olympic records were set. The Hungarian women dominated, winning seven out of 15 medals.

AP Corporate Archives contributed to this report

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Colorado Schools select sports moving to the fall




COLORADO — The Governor’s office is giving schools the option to move football, field hockey, and sideline spirit to the fall, which was originally slated to start in the springs due to COVID-19.

The Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) requested variances for remaining fall sports but they are still being considered by the Governor’s response team.

“I think they looked at the numbers and they looked at what can be done to safely put students back on the field,” Bert Borgmann, Assistant Commissioner with CHSAA.

Originally, the athletic schedule put in place for this school year was for football, field hockey and cheer to kick off in the spring. Schools like Harrison School District Two are sticking to that format.

“The original plan gave our athletes the opportunity to get on a field and participate, “said Dave Hogan. “There were state championships there and there were there for everyone.”

But others like D11 are bringing Friday night football back this fall. D11’s Athletic Director, Chris Noll says it’s partly due to the lessening of current restrictions.

“We just felt like we need to get the kids back to some normalcy,” said Noll. “We feel we can return safely.”

Regardless of what each school choses to do, CHSAA has a schedule for both seasons.

“A champion will be crowned in both A and C seasons and if there are some limited teams in C there will be some different types of scheduling that will be created,” said Borgmann.

Prior to the decision, several students and parents voicing their concern on there not being football in the fall.

“The reality of recruiting is, if you are high school senior at this point and don’t have a Division One offer, you’re not getting a Division One offer,” said Borgmann.

As for other fall sports who didn’t get lumped in with this current variance like boys soccer and girls volleyball, CHSAA says the governor’s office has yet to approve.

“We were disappointed we wanted our volleyballers to have an opportunity, they will compete till just be in season C,” said Noll.

As of Thursday, Harrison, Sierra, Canon City and the Classical Academy have decided to not move to the fall.

Response from the Governor’s Office:

“CDPHE responded to the requests that were submitted to the agency on Saturday of this past week, which included requests for football, field hockey, cheer and dance and volleyball. CDPHE provided conditional approval for the increased rosters for all of the outdoor sports that were listed in the letter, but denied the request for variances related to indoor sports. Soccer was not one of the sports included in Saturday’s letter.”

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Coronavirus: Big White Ski Club cancels annual ski, board and sport swap – Okanagan




The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has waylaid yet another popular event: Big White Ski Club’s annual ski, board and sport swap.

The popular event was scheduled to take place Oct. 23-24 at New Life Church along Harvey Avenue in Kelowna.

This week, though, organizers said this year’s gathering has been cancelled because of coronavirus guidelines and concerns.

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“This was a difficult decision to cancel our 50th annual ski, board and sport swap, but Covid-19 restrictions on group sizes and safety protocols would make it impossible to operate our largest fundraiser of the year,” said club president Dave Willoughby.

Funds raised by the swap help support around 150 youth athletes, says Willoughby. But this year’s cancellation is expected to have a significant impact on the non-profit club’s finances.

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COVID-19: Face masks to be mandatory at Sunshine Village for ski season

COVID-19: Face masks to be mandatory at Sunshine Village for ski season

Willoughby, however, is hopeful the swap will take place next year.

For more information about the Big White Ski Club, including how to donate, click here and here.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Metro Schools’ sports to begin playing games next week




NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Football at high schools within Metro Nashville Public Schools will be allowed to resume on September 25.

Dr. Adrienne Battle, director of MNPS made the announcement during Mayor John Cooper’s weekly news conference.

Dr. Battle also announced girl’s soccer can return September 23.

“I’m proud to be able to say that high school students will be able to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities in person, whether they attend school in person or remain in the virtual environment,” she said.

Fans won’t be able to attend games yet, but Dr. Battle said they are working on ways to add to the school spirit.

“We will allow cheerleaders and marching bands to be at games in a way that will provide for both social distancing and a bit of game time atmosphere.”

Live streaming technology is being added to stadiums for home games as well.

Football coaches in the district were given approval to start contact practice last Friday.

Previously, district leaders said contact practice was on hold until COVID-19 conditions improved for the city.

“We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 metrics to make further determinations regarding starting games and competitions,” MNPS Spokesperson Sean Braisted said in a statement.

He added that all extracurricular social distancing guidelines and precautions have to be followed, and the district will begin to phase in extracurricular activities as conditions allow. That goes with the district’s phase-in approach to in-person learning.

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.


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