This is the story of the very first modern Olympic Games, told through the eyes of the athletes who competed in it, and those who made it happen. It describes how one man convinced an indifferent world to hold a Games, how they were awarded to the most bankrupt nation in Europe, and how, against all expectation, they somehow staged an event so successful it gave birth to modern international sport.
The pioneer athletes of that Athens spring included the:
- Ivy League college student who invented the sprint start
- Fiesty Irish-American who won the very first medal
- Englishman who disputed a decision so wildly he had to be led from the field by a member of the Greek royal family
- Oxford undergraduate who entered at the last minute and then won two gold medals
- Accountant who was the first middle-distance running hero
- Obscure villager who caused a sensation and ensured the success of the Games
- Sporting American brothers who inspired an entire field to imitate their methods
- Men who were nearly banned from the Games because they were working class
- Champion who became the first victim of the press inventing quotes
Every event at those Games is brought to life, and there is a final chapter which tells of what became of those first Olympic heroes, including the champion who went on the stage, one who became a freedom fighter, another who went on to be a famous war correspondent, and two who, much later, perished in Nazi concentration camps.
This book, by David Randall, senior writer with The Independent of London who has written about sports history for more than 30 years, is the most lively, humourous account of an Olympic Games ever published, and comes complete with a full results service.