Los Angeles 1932 Summer Olympic Games

The California Olympics were a great step forward in many respects, yet the remoteness and the financial crisis of the time resulted in a modest participation, leaving a slight blemish on the image.

Time and Place: Los Angeles (USA); 30 July – 14 August 1932
Other candidates: /
Participation: 37 countries, 1332 athletes
Number of sports: 14 sports, 117 events
Number of Slovenian athletes: /
Fire lit by: the fire was burning, the lighting ceremony was introduced in 1936 Charles Curtis (Vice-president of the USA)
Olympic oath: George Calnan (fencer)


Trivia from the Los Angeles 1932 Summer Olympic Games

The number of participants was half that of Amsterdam, but it did not stop spectators from flocking to the events. The spectacular opening ceremony included 3,500 musicians and was visited by 100,000 people. For the first time in history, the Games were shortened to 16 days, greatly invigorating the Games in comparison to multi-months ordeals of the past. Up to Beijing 2008, all subsequent games lasted between 15 and 18 days.


As in past games, scandals related to the breaking of rules on amateurism could not be avoided. This time, the legendary Finnish athlete Paavo Nurmi was blacklisted for paying taxes from his receiving of starting fee money. Nevertheless, LA saw its share of supreme achievements with 18 world records.


Despite many technological advances, there were some complications. A rather substantial gaff happened in the 3000 m steeplechase with the failure of a counter, leading to an additional lap of the stadium for the runners. The winner Volmari Iso-Hollo was not much bothered by the extension. The extra meters brought Thomas Evenson a silver while Joseph McCluskey had to content with bronze.

American athletes were again the most successful by a large margin, winning 40 gold medals in front of the home crowd. Three of those were contributed by swimmer Helen Madison who became the most successful athlete of the Olympics with wins in the 100 and 400 meter freestyle and the relay.

Slovenians and the 1932 Summer Olympics

The USA Olympics should have been another episode in the story of success of the exceptional Leon Štukelj. He was determined to travel to Los Angeles with Jože Primožič and they both received invitation of the Yugoslavian Sokol society in the USA. They were however given an unexpected red light from Belgrade, substantiated by excessive costs. The 1932 Summer Olympics thus passed without Slovenian participation. A similar fate was met by fellow Yugoslavian athletes. The exception was the national shot-put champion Veljko Narančić who traveled to LA at his own expense.