The Olympic Games had not been held in either 1940 or 1944 due to World War II, and London was called upon at short notice to host them. Despite shortages of essential products due to rationing, the city rose magnificently to the challenge—a true victory over dark times.
The London Games were the first to be shown on home television, although very few people in Great Britain actually owned sets. Starting blocks for athletes in sprint races (100m to 400m) were introduced for the first time.
Seventeen-year-old American Bob Mathias won the decathlon only four months after taking up the sport. He remains the youngest athlete in Olympic history to win a men’s athletics event. The dominant woman of the Games was sprinter Fanny Blankers-Koen of the Netherlands. She entered four sprint events and won all four.
Karoly Takacs was a member of the Hungarian world champion pistol shooting team in 1938 when a grenade shattered his right hand—his pistol hand. Takacs taught himself to shoot with his left hand and, 10 years later, he won an Olympic gold medal in the rapid-fire pistol event.
See the list of teams and medals won by each.See table