Going Dutch sees several firsts but women struggle on the track

Amsterdam bid three times for the Olympics before finally being awarded them.

The Games were memorable because, for the first time, women competed on the track, despite the objections of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the former president of the International Olympic Committee, who missed these Olympics because of illness.

The winner of the 800 metres was Lina Radke-Batschauer on Germany's return to the Olympic arena after a 16-year absence caused by the First World War and then having had to serve a 10-year probation for its part in that conflict.

But the race was marred when many of her competitors finished in a state of exhaustion and women were not allowed to run so far again in the Olympics again until 1960.

Another new innovation that caught on much more quickly with officials was the lighting of an Olympic flame, which was kept alight throughout the competition.

Also for the first time the parade of nations was led by Greece, in recognition of their role in Olympic history, and Holland, the hosts, marched in last, a tradition that has been adopted by every subsequent Games.

The Games were also the first to include as a sponsor Coca-Cola, who organised a freighter to deliver the United States team and 1,000 cases of drinks to Holland. The relationship between the IOC and Coca-Cola continues until this day.

The Finns returned in force for Games that featured the first standardised track of 400m built on reclaimed land. They won all the men's track events from the 1500m upwards, including veteran Paavo Nurmi in the 10,000m, his ninth overall Olympic gold medal.

Johnny Weismuller, later to find fame in Hollywood as Tarzan, dominated in the pool as America finished top of the medals table for the third consecutive Games, fulfilling the target set them by the president of the US Olympic Committee.

"We are here to represent the greatest country on earth. We did not come here to lose gracefully. We came here to win decisively," said General Douglas MacArthur.

Date Games held: May 17-August 12

Number of nations represented: 46

Number of competitors: 3,014 (290 women)

Number of medal events: 109