The Games of the 19th Olympics were a most interesting event due to the altitude and climate. Athletes at the Olympics broke 34 world records and 38 Olympic records.
Time and Place: Ciudad de Mexico (Mexico); 12 – 27 October 1968
Other candidates: Detroit, Lyon and Buenos Aires
Participation: 112 countries, 5516 athletes
Number of sports: 20 sports, 172 events
Number of Slovenian athletes: 13
Fire lit by: Norma Enriqueta Basilio de Sotelo (track and field athlete)
Games opened by: Gustavo Diaz Ordaz (President of Mexico)
Olympic oath: Pablo Lugo Garrido (track and field)
Trivia from the Mexico 1968 Summer Olympic Games
The Mexico Olympics received much criticism before they even began. Criticisms ranged from the inappropriate altitude to the mass protests staged by the local people. The protests were violently quenched by the authorities, giving the Games an unpleasant tinge.
Nevertheless, the assembly of the greatest athletes of the world at an altitude of 2240 meters developed into a true festival of sports achievements and records. Athletes at broke 34 world records and 38 Olympic records. Experts sought reasons for the achievements in reduced oxygen in the air and altitude training which elevated the red blood count in the athletes, thus increasing the inflow of oxygen into the muscles, resulting in increased performance.
Especially the track and field competition was in a class of itself. An especially notable achievement was the record breaking long jump of Bob Beamon. The American athlete was a favorite for the competition but struggled throughout the qualifying sessions. In his final jump he managed a distance of 890 cm, setting new criteria for the sport. The record was only broken in 1991 by American Mike Powell after an epic duel with Carl Lewis.
Another revolution happened in the high jump, in which American Richard Fosbury won gold with a pioneering new technique (the "flop"). Soon thereafter, his style become the norm for all competitors. History was also written by discus thrower Al Oerter who became the Olympic champion for the fourth time. Americans were indeed the best nation at the Games by a wide margin.
Great excitement was created by American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos. During the national anthem, the winner and third-placed in the 200 meter race extended their arms with black gloves. Their gesture of salute showed support for the black power movement which fought for the right of African Americans. Their National Olympic Committee expelled them from the team.
Slovenians and the 1968 Summer Olympics
13 Slovenian athletes (two of which were female) took part in the Mexico Olympics. As in Japan, the leading role was played by gymnast Miro Cerar, born in 1939 in Ljubljana. Cerar won his second consecutive Olympic gold with his pommel horse routine with a score of 19.325. As Leon Štukelj before him, Cerar paved the way for the entire gymnastics team which came sixth in the team competition with Japan winning the gold. Alongside Cerar, the team consisted of Miloš Vratič, Tine Šrot, Milenko Kersnič and Janez Brodnik.