World of Sport

Sweden 1912

On the one hand, the organisers opted to streamline the Games by reducing the number of events. On the other, they came up with the idea of adding art competitions to the schedule.

Baron de CoubertinSo no boxing, because Sweden wouldn't allow it, but plenty of music, sculpture, painting and architecture. And literature, with the gold medal won by Baron de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, under a pseudonym.

Other firsts included the introduction of electronic timing for the running events, a debut appearance by Japan and the first death in a Games event following the collapse of the Portuguese marathon runner, Francisco Lázaro.

Jim ThorpeThere was also the addition to the schedule of the pentathlon and decathlon, which led to one of the biggest controversies in Games history.

Both events were won by Jim Thorpe, a native American, who also competed in the high jump and long jump for a total of 17 events. He was hailed as "the greatest athlete in the world" by King Gustav V of Sweden, only to be disqualified the following year, when it emerged that Thorpe had once played semi-professional baseball. The medals were subsequently reinstated, but not until 1983, 30 years after his death.

Hannes KolehmainenFinland again protested at having to compete under the flag of Russia. Hannes Kolehmainen won the cross-country, 5,000 metres and 10,000m to become the first of the 'Flying Finns', but when the Russian flag was raised in celebration, he told onlookers he almost wished he had lost.

American Ralph Craig completed the sprint double and admitted to having jumped the gun once, although some sources suggested he was responsible for three of the seven false starts that delayed the running of the 100m.

Swedish shooting teamOscar Swahn continued his shooting career at the age of 64, while fellow Swedish marksmen, twin brothers Eric and Vilhelm Carlberg, collected five shooting golds between them.

However, the discipline proved to be the weakest event in the modern pentathlon of one George S Patton, who improved sufficiently to become one of America's most famous generals.

The cyclists set records for endurance, with their only race recognised as the longest in Olympic history. It took nearly 11 hours for the first man to cross the finishing line, an hour less than the wrestling semi-final between Russian Martin Klein and Finland's Alppo Asikainen. Klein won, but conceded the final because he was too exhausted to compete.

Sweden 1912In one of the middleweight categories the gold medal was not awarded because nine hours of wrestling between Ivar Böling, of Finland, and Sweden's Anders Ahlgren failed to produce a winner. Both men received silvers.

Sweden won the most medals (65), but they finished second behind the United States in the medals table, as they finished with 24 golds to the Americans' 25.

There were nearly 2,500 competitors from 29 nations and the Games were considered to be gaining momentum as the Olympic movement looked forward to Berlin in 1916. But that became the first celebration to be cancelled because of the outbreak of war.