The 1972 Munich Games were the largest yet, setting records in all categories, with 195 events and 7,173 athletes from 121 nations. They were supposed to celebrate peace and for the first ten days, all did indeed go well. But in the early morning of 5 September, eight Palestinian terrorists broke into the Olympic Village, killed two members of the Israeli team and took nine more hostages. In an ensuing battle, all nine Israeli hostages were killed, as were five of the terrorists and one policeman. The Olympics were suspended and a memorial service was held in the main stadium. In defiance of the terrorists, the International Olympic Committee ordered the competitions to resume after a pause of 34 hours. All other details about the Munich Games paled in significance, but it did have its highlights. Archery was reintroduced to the Olympic program after a 52-year absence and handball after a 36-year absence. Whitewater (or slalom) canoeing was included for the first time. The 1972 Games were also the first to have a named mascot: Waldi the dachshund. U.S. swimmer Mark Spitz won an incredible seven gold medals to go with the two he had earned in 1968. Lasse Viren of Finland fell midway through the 10,000m final but rose and set a world record to win the first of his four career gold medals. Freestyle wrestler Ivan Yarygin of Russia pinned all seven of his opponents en route to his first Olympic championship in the heavyweight division. West German, Liselott Linsenhoff, competing in the dressage event, became the first female equestrian to win a gold medal in an individual event. The media star of the Munich Games was the tiny Soviet gymnast, Olga Korbut, whose dramatic cycle of success in the team competition, failure in the individual competition and renewed success in the apparatus finals captured the attention of fans worldwide.
Participating Nations: 121
Participants: 7,134 athletes (1,059 women, 6,075 men)
The top three winners were: USSR, United States of America and German Democratic Republic