Friday, 30 March 2012

Road to Olympics - 1972 Munich Games - A Bow before the Lull...

Munich '72
After enjoying a great showing at the Mexico Games 4 years earlier, the expectations from Olympic Games fans were high. But before we get to the actual Games, a brief reminiscence of the year 1972. The world was generally polarised by various political, economic and religious issues.
With the major powers slowly advancing with their Cold War, others busy engaging East Asia tigers which were quickly industrialising. Africa too was now taking a place in the world map as many independent states started encountering upheavals, dictatorships and overthrows. S.Americans too had similar challenges coupled with climatic changes. The Middle East would be thrust into the spotlight for both good and bad reasons relating to the oil crisis, monopolising of the same, terrorism and relentless battles within.
Munich Olympic Stadium -

Back to matters sport, Germany had recovered from the World Wars challenges and now becoming a major industrial power thanks to its ingenious enterprising and technical manpower. The city of Munich hosted one of the most memorable Games, both tragic and heroic in equal measure. Here's a look at a few of the highlights;

Interesting Facts:

  • Mark Spitz " 7-star hero" - this was because of his phenomenal performance in the pool tallying a total of 7 gold medals, along with 7 swimming world records. He had done 2 gold in Mexico and thus this was always coming from this human phenomenon. He's one of the most famous and recognizable Olympians ever.
    7-Star Hero - Mark Spitz
  • USSR 'beats' USA  - In one of the most controversial moments of the Olympic Games, the former Soviet Union 'beat' US of A in the basketball final game. After leading 50-49, some flawed timing and calls were made & the Soviets quickly made a basket, before the final horn. The USA team refused to recognise the result and consequently avoided the medal award ceremony for their silver. It has never been awarded to this day.
  • 2 more bans-for-life - As if to spite their fellow Americans, two athletes of African origin were banned for life after taking the awards ceremony 'too casually'...twirling with their medals and not facing the flag as their national anthem was played. Vincent Matthews and Wayne Collett are the culprits!
  • Munich massacre - one of the most infamous incidences to ever occur during the Olympics took place at the Olympic Village where Palestine guerillas attacked the Israeli camp and took hostage of some of their athletes. Eventually 11 Israeli hostages were killed while the Palestinian attackers lost all but 3 of their own. 
  • Future Olympians Kenya's Catherine Ndereba, the late Richard Chelimo and Mozambique's Maria Mutola were born this year.
  • This would also mark the last Olympics before Kenya took an 8 years hiatus from the Games thanks to the Cold War freeze and boycotts to the Montreal Games in 1976 and the Moscow Games in 1980. This also affected the future performances in the sporting disciplines. 
Philip Waruinge -

Key Figures &  Results:
  •  7113 participants took part representing a rise by 28% of total participation;
  • 121 countries were represented 
  • 193 competitions were held in 23 sporting disciplines
  • Kenya took part in 4 disciplines same as 1968 - Athletics, Boxing, Hockey & Shooting
  • Kenya won 2 Gold - Kip Keino (3000m steeplechase) & 4 x 400m men's relay; 3 Silver - Philip Waruinge (Featherweight), Ben Jipcho (3000m steeplechase) and Kip Keino 1500m and finally 4 Bronze medals; Julius Sang 400m flat, Mike Boit 800m and Richard 'Dick' Murunga in boxing's welterweight.
  • The Gold in 3000m Men's Steeplechase would mark the start of a winning tradition for Kenya in all Olympic Games it participated in going forward. This would be replicated in major athletic meets such as the World Athletics championships and All-Africa Games among others
  • It would also be the last time Kenya took part in the next 8 years; boycotting Montreal in 1976 and Moscow in 1980 - thanks to the political tensions  and the Cold War increasingly maligning developing countries versus their more developed counterparts.

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