Doves of peace
A Finnish surprise

After an interruption of eight years due to the First World War, the Olympic Games returned to action in Antwerp. The Beglian city, which had been severly bombed during the war, was chosen to host the Games shortly after the end of the conflict. The Games did not welcome Germany nor its allies, and were organised with one underlying necessity for the 29 nations involved: austerity.

In some senses this Olympiad was historic: the five-ringed Olympic flag and oath - pronounced by Belgian fencer Victor Boin - made their first appearance (even though the oath had been read during the intercalated games in 1906). Another innovation was the public's involvement in the releasing of hundreds of doves during the opening ceremony, symbolising the return of peace to the continent of Europe.

The United States came top with 40 gold medals, with a total of 94, although the athletics events were ill-attended, notably due to the elevated price of tickets for the competitions.

One surprise victor was Finland, mostly thanks to a young long distance specialist - a 23-year-old who won three gold medals and one silver, a certain Paavo Nurmi. The other big Finnish name at these Games was Hannes Kolehmainen, who, having won the 5000 and 10,000 metres in 1912, went on to win the marathon event.

As in Stockholm, the Hawaiian swimmer Duke Kahanamoku was the fastest in the 100m freestyle, while the Italian fencer Nedo Nadi left Antwerp with five titles. His brother Aldo had to make do with 'only' three team titles and an individual silver medal in the sabre event.

American boxer Edward Eagan, who won an Olympic title in the light-heavyweight category, became the only athlete to win both summer and winter Olympic titles after his bobsleigh gold medal with three other team members during the Games in Lake Placid (1932).

Overall, the first post-war Games of the modern era allowed the peoples of Europe to find hope and strength in a sporting and spirited atmosphere.


Hal Prieste, 103, from the USA holds the original Olympic flag that he stole from the pole during the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, where he won a bronze medal in the high diving platform before he handing it back to IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch during the opening of the 111th session of the IOC, 11 September 2000 in Sydney. Prieste was born in Fresno, California in 1896, the same year as the first Olympic games was held and is the oldest living Olympic medalist.
1United States462929104
3Great Britain29171965
5South Korea138728

The Philippines holds the record for winning the most medals without a gold haul with seven bronze and two silvers for a total of nine.

The Philippines has not won a medal since Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco settled for silver in boxing via a controversial decision during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Harry Tañamor, the only Filipino predicted to win by the Sports Illustrated in its Olympic Preview edition, bows out in the first match up in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The men's Philippine Basketball team is the first country to ever score 100 or more points in the 1948 Olympics after clobbering Iraq,102-30.

The Philippine basketball team wound up fifth place—best finish for an Asian country in the Olympics to date—in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the first time basketball was played as an Olympic sport.

Teofilo Yldefonso is the first Filipino to win a medal and the only one to take home multiple medals. He finished third both in the Men's 200 meter breastroke during the 1928 and 1932 Olympics.

Mary Antoinette Rivero's tie for fifth place in Taekwondo is the closest any Filipino athlete came to a medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

The largest delegation the Philippines has ever sent to the Games was 53 in the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, though not competing, carries the Philippine flag at the opening of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Philippines participated in the Winter Olympics three times, in 1972 (Juan Cipriano and Ben Nanasca, alpine skiing), in 1988 (Raymund Ocampo, luge) and in 1992 (Michael Teruel, alpine skiing).

Men's boxing has for medals in the Olympics with Anthony Villanueva, silver in the Featherweight Division of the 1964 Games in Tokyo; Leopoldo Serantes, third in 1988 Seoul; Roel Velasco, third in Barcelona; and his brother Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco, second in the 1996 Atlanta Games.

The Philippines has only won medals in three events since joining the Olympics in 1924.

The Philippines is the first nation in the tropics to ever participate in the Winter Olympic Games.

John Baylon, a nine-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist, and Jerry Diño were the last Filipino Olympic qualifiers in the discipline Judo, having vied in the 1992 Barcelona Games.

With only eight athletes in six sporting events for the London Games, this will be PH's smallest delegation since 1996.

The Philippines will shoot for its first gold medal in six of the following events in the 2012 London Olympics: Athletics, BMX, Boxing, Cycling, Shooting and Swimming.

Arianne Cerdena won a gold in bowling at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, but Cerdena's gold was not included in the medal tally since bowling was considered only as a demonstration sport.

The Philippines is the first country to compete and win an Olympic medal among Southeast Asian countries.

1972 was the last year the Philippine men's basketball team, which then paraded William 'Bogs' Adornado, Danny Florencio and Yoyong Martirez among others in its line up, has qualified for the Olympics.

The Philippines last reached the final round swimming 80 years ago when Jikirum Adjaluddin and Teofilo Yldefonso ended up in the final six in the 1932 Los Angeles Games.