The Challenging 1908 London Olympics: An Unexpected Host City

Posted by Chris Strom on Mon, Jun 25, 2012 @ 11:11 PM

The 1908 London Summer Olympic Games were originally slated to be held in Naples. Unfortunately, Mount Vesuvius erupted on April 7, 1906, devastating the city of Naples. Funds originally slated for the Olympic development were diverted to the reconstruction of Naples and a new venue of London was selected. Games were held in White city in tandem with the Franco-British Exhibition. Berlin and Milan were other top candidates.

The White City Stadium was built in record time for the games. It held 68,000 and was widely considered a technological marvel of the time period. The stadium track was three laps to the mile (not the modern standard of 400 meters). In addition, there was a swimming pool with diving boards and platforms for the wrestling and gymnastics events in the middle of it.

1908 olympics women, 1908 olympics archery

1908 Olympics - Women Were,  "Permitted - if properly dressed", To Compete In The Archery Events

A controversy of the games was the American shot putter and American flag carrier Ralph Rose’s refusal to dip the American flag before the Royal Box during the opening ceremony.  As a result of his actions, the King “felt compelled to restore the importance of the monarchy” by changing the original marathon race distance of 25 miles to 26 miles. That way, the marathon could start at Windsor Castle and finish in front of the King. Due to these changes, the marathon covered a distance of 26 miles 385 yards which would become the standard marathon length beginning with the 1924 Summer Olympics.

1908 olympic pin, olympic silver pin, official 1908 silver pin

A Stunning Specimen of the 1908 Summer Olympic Contestant's Silver Badge in Absolutely Splendid Condition

One of the most famous incidents of the games came at the end of the marathon.  Dorando Pietri of Italy was the first to enter the stadium. As he entered, he collapsed several times and even ran the wrong way. Near the finish line, two officials took him by the arms and brought him to the line. As a result of the official’s actions, he was disqualified and the medal went to American Johnny Hayes. Since he had not been responsible for his disqualification, Queen Alexandra awarded him a gilded silver cup the very next day.

From the Amyx collection, we are proud to present a mint 1908 Silver Medal presented for Racquets from these Summer Olympic Games held in London. The presentation case is black leather trimmed in gold and the medals themselves are in pristine condition. 

1908 olympic medal, 1908 silver medal, silver medal

A Gorgeous and Finely 3-D Created 1908 Olympic Silver Medal A Truly Rare and Magnificent Item in Pristine Condition


1908 Summer Olympic Medal caseThe Gilt-Trimmed Case to accompany the 1908 Olympic Silver Medal -- It is a true Rarity to find both a Century-Old Olympic Winners Medal along with it's Original Presentation Case.

Racquets was just one of many interesting events in the 1908 Summer Olympic games. Tug of War was included in the athletic events as was water motorsports (speed boating), lacrosse, and jeu de paume.

Though the events for the upcoming London Olympics are vastly different from the 1908 events of Tug of War and speed boating, learning about the 1908 Olympics shows just how far athletic competition in the Olympics has come.  To learn more about Olympic history, please contact us.


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Tags: Summer Olympics., Olympics

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