1932 Olympics - Los Angeles

Despite a world-wide economic depression and predictions that the 1932 Summer Olympics were doomed to failure, 37 countries sent over 1,300 athletes to southern California and the Games were a huge success.

Energized by perfect weather and the buoyant atmosphere of the first Olympic Village, the competition was fierce. Sixteen world and Olympic records fell in men's track and field alone.

In women's track, 21-year-old Babe Didrikson, who had set world records in the 80-meter hurdles, javelin and high jump at the AAU Olympic Trials three weeks before, came to L.A. and announced, “I am out to beat everybody in sight.” She almost did too–winning the hurdles and javelin, but taking second in the high jump (despite tying teammate Jean Shiley for first) when her jumping style was ruled illegal.

Didrikson's heroics, along with American Eddie Tolan's double in the 100 and 200 meters and Italian Luigi Beccali's upset victory in the 1,500, were among the Games' highlights, but they didn't quite make up for the absence of Finland's famed distance runner Paavo Nurmi.

Just before the Games, the IOC said that Nurmi would not be allowed to participate in his fourth Olympics because he had received excessive expense money on a trip to Germany in 1929. The ruling came as no surprise in the track world where it was said, “Nurmi has the lowest heartbeat and the highest asking price of any athlete in the world.”

The Japanese men and American women dominated in swimming, each winning five of six events. Helene Madison of the U.S. won two races and anchored the winning relay team.


Event   Time  
 100m Eddie Tolan, USA 10.3 OR
  Ralph Metcalfe, USA 10.3  
  Arthur Jonath, GER 10.5  
 200m Eddie Tolan, USA 21.2 OR
  George Simpson, USA 21.4  
  Ralph Metcalfe, USA 21.5  
 400m Bill Carr, USA 46.2 WR
  Benjamin Eastman, USA 46.4  
  Alexander Wilson, CAN 47.4  
 800m Tommy Hampson, GBR 1:49.7 WR
  Alexander Wilson, CAN 1:49.9  
  Philip Edwards, CAN 1:51.5  
1500m Luigi Beccali, ITA 3:51.2 OR
  John Cornes, GBR 3:52.6  
  Philip Edwards, CAN 3:52.8  
5000m Lauri Lehtinen, FIN 14:30.0 OR
  Ralph Hill, USA 14:30.0  
  Lauri Virtanen, FIN 14:44.0  
10,000m Janusz Kusocinski, POL 30:11.4 OR
  Volmari Iso-Hollo, FIN 30:12.6  
  Lauri Virtanen, FIN 30:35.0  
Marathon Juan Carlos Zabala, ARG 2:31:36.0 OR
  Samuel Ferris, GBR 2:31:55.0  
  Armas Toivonen, FIN 2:32:12.0  
110m H George Saling, USA 14.6  
  Percy Beard, USA 14.7  
  Donald Finlay, GBR 14.8  
400m H Bob Tisdall, IRE 51.7  
  Glenn Hardin, USA 51.9  
  Morgan Taylor, USA 52.0  
Volmari Iso-Hollo, FIN 10:33.4  
  Thomas Evenson, GBR 10:46.0  
  Joseph McCluskey, USA 10:46.2  
50k Walk Thomas Green, GBR 4:50:10  
  Janis Dalinsh, LAT 4:57:20  
  Ugo Frigerio, ITA 4:59:06  
4x100m USA (Bob Kiesel, Emmett
Toppino, Hector Dyer,
Frank Wykoff)
40.0 WR
  Germany 40.9  
  Italy 41.2  
4x400m USA (Ivan Fuqua, Edgar
Ablowich, Karl Warner,
Bill Carr)
3:08.2 WR
  Great Britain 3:11.2  
  Canada 3:12.8  
Note: Due to a lap count error, the 3000-meter steeplechase actually went 3460 meters, or one lap too many.
Event   Mark  
High Jump Duncan McNaughton, CAN 6- 51/2  
  Robert Van Osdel, USA 6- 51/2  
  Simeon Toribio, PHI 6- 51/2  
Pole Vault Bill Miller, USA 14- 13/4 OR
  Shuhei Nishida, JPN 14- 0  
  George Jefferson, USA 13- 9  
Long Jump Edward Gordon, USA 25- 03/4  
  Charles L.Redd, USA 24- 111/4  
  Chuhei Nambu, JPN 24- 51/4  
Triple Jump Chuhei Nambu, JPN 51- 7 WR
  Erik Svensson, SWE 50- 31/4  
  Kenkichi Oshima, JPN 49- 71/4  
Shot Put Leo Sexton, USA 52- 6 OR
  Harlow Rothert, USA 51- 5  
  Frantisek Douda, CZE 51- 21/2  
Discus John Anderson, USA 162- 4 OR
  Henri J.Laborde, USA 159- 01/2  
  Paul Winter, FRA 157- 0  
Hammer Pat O'Callaghan, IRE 176-11  
  Ville Pörhölä, FIN 171- 6  
  Peter Zaremba, USA 165- 11/2  
Javelin Matti Järvinen, FIN 238- 6 OR
  Matti Sippala, FIN 229- 0  
  Eino Penttilä, FIN 225- 41/2  
Decathlon Jim Bausch, USA 8462 pts WR
  Akilles Järvinen, FIN    
  Wolrad Eberle, GER    


Event   Time  
 100m Stella Walsh, POL* 11.9 =WR
  Hilda Strike, CAN 11.9  
  Wilhelmina v.Bremen, USA 12.0  
80m H Babe Didrikson, USA 11.7 WR
  Evelyne Hall, USA 11.7  
  Marjorie Clark, S. Afr. 11.8  
4x100m USA (Mary Carew, Evelyn
Furtsch, Annette Rogers,
Wilhelmina Von Bremen)
46.9 WR
  Canada 47.0  
  Great Britain 47.6  
*An autopsy performed after Walsh's death in 1980 revealed that she was a man.
Event   Mark  
High Jump Jean Shiley, USA 5- 51/4 WR
  Babe Didrikson, USA 5- 51/4  
  Eva Dawes, CAN 5- 3  
Discus Lillian Copeland, USA 133- 2 OR
  Ruth Osburn, USA 131- 71/2  
  Jadwiga Wajsowna, POL 128- 1  
Javelin Babe Didrikson, USA 143- 4 OR
  Ellen Braumüller, GER 142- 81/2  
  Tilly Fleischer, GER 142- 11/4