1960 Rome, Italy

The 1960 Summer Olympics was held from August 25 to September 11, 1960 in Rome, Italy. Rome had been awarded the organization of the 1908 Summer Olympics, but after the 1906 eruption of Mount Vesuvius, was forced to decline and pass the honors to London.

On June 15, 1955, at the 50th IOC Session in Paris, France, Rome beat out Lausanne, Detroit, Budapest (being the first city of the Eastern Bloc to bid for the Olympic Games), Brussels, Mexico City and Tokyo for the rights to host the Games.

Highlights of the Rome Olympics

ñDanish sailor Paul Elvstrøm won his fourth straight gold medal in the Finn class. The only others to emulate his performance in an individual event are Al Oerter, Carl Lewis and, if the Intercalated Games of 1906 are included, Ray Ewry.

ñFinnish Vilho Ylönen, a field shooter, shot a bullseye to a wrong target and was dropped from the second place to fourth.

ñThe future Constantine II, King of Greece, won his country a gold in sailing Dragon Class.

ñFencer Aladár Gerevich of Hungary won his sixth consecutive gold medal in the team sabre event (1932–1936, 1948–1960).

ñWilma Rudolph, a former polio patient, won three gold medals in sprint events on the track. She was acclaimed as “the fastest woman in the world”.

ñAbebe Bikila of Ethiopia won the marathon bare-footed to become the first black African Olympic champion.

ñCassius Clay, later known as Muhammad Ali, won boxing’s light-heavyweight gold medal.

ñThe Japanese men’s gymnastics team won the first of five successive golds, the last of which was won in 1976, in Montreal.

ñSouth Africa appeared in the Olympic arena for the last time under its apartheid regime. It would not be allowed to return until 1992, after the abandonment of apartheid and during the transition to majority rule.

ñThe United States men’s national basketball team — led by future Basketball Hall of Famers Walt Bellamy, Jerry Lucas, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West — captured its fifth straight Olympic gold medal.

ñSwedish canoer Gert Fredriksson won his sixth Olympic title.

ñDanish cyclist Knud Enemark Jensen collapsed during his race under the influence of Roniacol and later died in the hospital. It was the second time an athlete died in competition at the Olympics, after the death of Portuguesemarathon runner Francisco Lázaro at the 1912 Summer Olympics.

ñAustralian athlete Herb Elliott won the men’s 1500 meters in one of the most dominating performances in Olympic history.

ñAmerican athlete Rafer Johnson defeated his rival and friend C.K. Yang in one of the greatest decathlon events in Olympic history.

ñPeter Camejo, a 2004 American vice-presidential candidate for the Green Party, competed in yachting for Venezuela.

ñArmin Hary won the 100 metres in an Olympic record time of 10.2 seconds.

ñPakistan broke India’s dominance in Olympic Men’s Field Hockey by becoming the first team in history to beat India in Olympic Field Hockey since 1928 and winning its first ever Olympic gold medal in the process. India had already won 6 previous hockey golds in the Summer Olympics.

ñThe future Sofía of Spain represented Greece in sailing events.

ñJeff Farrell of the United States won two gold medals in swimming after undergoing an emergency appendectomy six days before the Olympic Trials.

ñSingapore competed for the first time under its own flag, which was to become its national flag after independence, as the British had granted it self-government a year earlier. Coincidentally, it was the first time (and only time until 2008) an athlete from Singapore won an Olympic medal, when Tan Howe Liang won silver in the Weightlifting lightweight category.

ñAmerican wrestlers Shelby Wilson, and Doug Blubaugh both won gold medals in their respective weight classes. Both men were raised in the town of Ponca City, Oklahoma and wrestled together through high school and college.

ñCBS paid $394,000 for the right to broadcast the Games in the United States.

ñThis was the first Summer Olympic games to be telecast in North America. In addition to CBS in the United States, the Olympics were telecast for the first time in Canada.

A total of 84 nations participated at the Rome Games. Athletes from Morocco, San Marino, Sudan, and Tunisia competed at the Olympic Games for the first time. Suriname also made its first Olympic appearance, but its lone athlete withdrew from competition, leaving a total of 83 nations that actually competed.

Athletes from Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago would represent the new (British) West Indies Federation, competing as “Antilles”, but this nation would only exist for this single Olympiad. Athletes from East Germany and West Germany would compete as the United Team of Germany from 1956-1964.