When terror left a lasting impression

When terror left a lasting impression

Politics and war were never far away from the Olympic movement but in 1972, terrorism made an entry and left an indelible red blot on an arena of peace.

As the Games were in progress, eight Palestinian terrorists sneaked into the Olympic village, on September 5. They killed two Israeli athletes and took nine others as hostages, demanding the release of 200 persons in Israeli jails and safe passage for themselves out of West Germany.

Negotiations to secure the athletes’ release went on as tension gripped the sporting world and beyond. Allowed to move to the military airport, they were encountered by West German shooters and in the encounter that followed, all nine athletes and five terrorists were killed.

A defiant IOC decided not to bow to terrorism and after a break of 34 hours, the Games resumed. Munich was host to the largest Olympics to date, with 7134 athletes from 121 nations taking part.

Mark Spitz was the star of the show, winning seven gold medals in swimming – a record that was eclipsed by Michael Phelps in Beijing 2008. Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut, called the Munchkin of Munich, was the darling of the fans winning three gold, even though the all-around title eluded her.

Lasse Viren of Finland dominated the distance races with the 5000-10000 double. In the longer race, he stumbled and fell early, still got up and went on to break the world record.

For India, the only medal came from hockey, a bronze this time.

Did you know?

The Munich Games was the first to have an official mascot – Waldi, a dachshund.

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