Host City: München, West Germany
Date Started: August 31, 1972
Date Finished: September 10, 1972
Participants: 1,330 (961 men and 369 women) from 104 countries
Youngest Participant: Heather Gooding (14 years, 165 days)
Oldest Participant: Alex Oakley (46 years, 131 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 3 athletes with 3 medals
Most Medals (Country): United States (22 medals)
The 1972 Olympics were awarded to the Bavarian city of München, which planned a great festival to offset the image that beset the 1936 Berlin Olympics. For the first week at München, they were the friendly Olympics, and a beautiful site. Sadly, on 5 September, the Games were interrupted when Arab terrorists, members of the Black September group, invaded the Olympic Village and took the Israeli Olympic team hostage. Hours of negotiations were ongoing, but eventually 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were killed, either in their Village rooms, or in a shoot-out at Fürstenfeldbruch Airport, a military facility on the outskirts of München. The Games were delayed for one day but they continued, a decision still considered somewhat controversial by some.
Amidst that setting, it was difficult to focus on events on the track, but there were some superb performances. Both a man and woman won the 100/200 sprint double, but surprisingly, neither was American. Valery Borzov of the Soviet Union and Renate Stecher of the GDR won both sprint races. Borzov was aided slightly in the 100 when two American threats, Eddie Hart and Rey Robinson, missed their starting times in the quarter-finals and were eliminated. Finland’s Lasse Virén also won two gold medals, winning both the 5K and 10K, returning Finland to Olympic distance running glory. He won the 10,000 in world record time despite falling in mid-race.