Games of the XVII Olympiad
Fifty-four years after Italy had to give up hosting the Olympics; Rome finally got its chance. They made the most of their dramatic history, holding the wrestling competition in the Basilica of Maxentius. Among the other ancient sites that were used were the Caracalla Baths (gymnastics) and the Arch of Constantine (finish of the marathon). Paul Elvstrom of Denmark won the gold medal in the single-handed dinghy class yachting – for the fourth consecutive time. Hungarian fencer Aladar Gerevich earned his sixth consecutive gold medal in the team sabre event. In canoeing, Sweden’s Gert Fredriksson won his sixth gold medal. Yugoslavia, which qualified for the final by winning a coin toss, won the football tournament after losing in the final three times in a row. Sante Gaiardoni of Italy became the only cyclist in Olympic history to win both the time trial and the match sprint events. By winning the silver medal in light-welterweight boxing, Clement “Ike” Quartey of Ghana became the first black African Olympic medalist. Five days later in the marathon, Abebe Bikila, running barefoot, outlasted Rhadi Ben Abdesselem of Morocco to become the first black African Olympic champion. Rafer Johnson and C.K. Yang were decathlon training partners at UCLA, but in Rome Johnson represented the United States and Yang represented Chinese Taipei. In a dramatic finish, they took first and second places and then, exhausted, fell against each other for support. Suffering from concussion and a broken collarbone after a fall in the endurance test of the three-day equestrian event, Bill Roycroft left his hospital bed to compete in the jumping test and ensure the gold medal for Australia.
Participating Nations: 83
Participants: 5,338 athletes (611 women, 4,727 men)
The top three winners were: USSR, United States of America and Italy