Fanny, Matthias dazzle in London

Fanny, Matthias dazzle in London

Flashback London 1948

Fanny, Matthias dazzle in London

London came to the rescue of the Games for a second time even though Britain was in a parlous economic state after World War Two.

The Games in 1940 and 1944 had been awarded to Japan and Finland respectively but both had to be cancelled because of war.

Dubbed the 'Austerity Olympics', the London Games still attracted more than 4,000 competitors from 59 countries, with Fanny Blankers-Koen of the Netherlands winning gold medals in the 100, 200, 80 metres hurdles and 4x100 relay to emerge as the star.

Bob Matthias, 17, won the decathlon in the gloom as there were no floodlights in Wembley stadium. Matthias had taken up the discipline only four months previously. He is the youngest male to win a gold medal in athletics.

Hungarian southpaw Laszlo Papp took the middleweight boxing title, the first of three Olympic golds he was to win before becoming the communist country's first professional.

Another Hungarian caught the eye for sheer grit. Karoly Takacs, a member of the world champion pistol team, lost his right hand when a grenade exploded. Takacs then learnt to shoot with his left hand and won the rapid-fire pistol gold medal in London.

Did you know?

Starting blocks for sprint events in athletics were introduced at London.