Quite simply this book, over 1300 pages of it, is probably the definitive guide to the past Olympics. Written by David Wallechinsky and his nephew Jaime Loucky the 2012 version is fully updated to include the records from the Beijing 2008 games. The book is now in it’s 9th edition, the previous three editions have sold over 50,000 copies.
David Wallechinsky is vice-president of the International Society for Olympic Historians and in this book records every Olympic final at every modern Olympic games since 1896. The 2012 Olympics are, of course, the third to be staged in London, and this book gives you access to the complete records of the previous two London games including the unusual events and characters at the 1908 games.
A summary of the contents of the book:
- Details of all the Olympic games venues including number of competitors, nations represented and events;
- Medal tables – the last (and only) time that Great Britain was top of the table? 1908.
- A short history of each of the games including the highlights;
- A discussion of some of the main issues to do with the games including politics and drugs;
- The main section of the book covers the records of the events (pages 43 to 1326) – note this covers the summer Olympic games only;
- The summer Olympic records;
- And finally, some useful abbreviations including the nations and political entities recognised by the International Olympic Committee.
The individual events are too numerous to list here, but the chapter headings are:
- Track and Field (Men);
- Track and Field (Women);
- Field Hockey;
- Gymnastics (Men);
- Gymnastics (Women);
- Team Handball;
- Modern Pentathlon;
- Swimming (Men);
- Swimming (Women);
- Synchronized Swimming;
- Table Tennis;
- Water Polo;
- Freestyle Weightlifting;
- Greco-Roman Weightlifting;
- Discontinued Sports.
There are thousands of interesting stories to read here, this is not simply a dry list of facts. For example, skip to the final chapter of discontinued sports to find out when the long arm of the law one won gold, silver and bronze medals for Great Britain in the Tug of War event – yes, 1908 again.
In summary, if you are interested in the history of the Olympics and marvelling at the athletic feats of the past, then this is the book for you.