Igniting the Flame
America's First Olympic Team
"The story of the fourteen men - largely forgotten and never the subject of a full-length book - who created the American Olympic movement by winning eleven gold medals at the first modern Olympics in 1896 in Athens, timed for publication leading up to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials and the 2012 Olympics in London"--
Globe Fearon Co
The first U.S. Olympic team—a ragtag group of 14 men, mostly Ivy Leaguers—caused a swell of national pride while taking home 11 gold medals and paving the way for generations of U.S. Olympians. Author Jim Reisler chronicles the growing American sports scene in the 19th Century, the men of influence who established a modern Olympics, and how a squad of moderately talented Americans, funded independently, competing without the backing of the Amateur Athletic Union or their universities, went off to Athens, anyway. By triumphing in their events, they won not only gold—but also the hearts and minds of the world.
Theirs was a strange journey to Greece—high jump training on a rolling transatlantic ship, nearly missed connections, practice runs among throngs of native children. But on the first day of Games, something unexpected happened. Boston’s James Connolly won the triple jump (becoming the first Olympic champion in more than 1,500 years); Princeton’s Robert Garrett took gold in the discus, an event he had never tried before; all three American sprinters won their 100-meter heats. As American triumphs mounted, so did headlines, legitimizing the Games back home. But as fast as their star rose, somehow their story has been largely forgotten. Even more forgotten is the team’s champion, William Mulligan Sloane, a Princeton professor of classics whose crucial role in establishing the modern Olympics has never before been adequately explored.
Discusses the organization of the 1896 Summer Olympics, the first modern Olympics, and how difficult it was for the American team which had virtually no support heading into the games.
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