The XXI Olympiad in 1976 were the first games to be held in Canada and from the beginning
were beset by a number of problems.
A lack of funds, industrial disputes , political corruption,
mismanagement, inflation and a $100 million outlay for security which involved
some 16,000 police and soldiers(to prevent another
had compounded & slowed preparations.
This made it impossible to finish the facilities in time and
the skyline was still dominated by cranes during the Opening Cermony.
In 1970 when Montreal
won the rights to host the games it was estimated that it would cost
$310 million. Instead it wound up costing them nearly $1.5 billion.
And until quite recently, Montreal was still repaying the debts run up by these Olympics.
This financial catastrophe even had repercussions for the bidding of future games.
(eg: Only one city applied for the 1980 Games — Los Angeles. And they vowed to make the games pay
The Montreal Olympics , like others in the past, were also plagued by politics.
24 of the 116 registered nations boycotted these games and
the number of athletes competing were 6085 – 1071 less than in Munich, ’72.
Taiwan withdrew when Communist China pressured
Canada to deny the Taiwanese the right to
compete as the “Republic of China”.The Canadians wanted Taiwan to compete
under the Olympic banner
and not under their country’s official name.
(It should be noted that China was the largest buyer of Canadian wheat).
20 other African nations also boycotted
these Games because New Zealand was competing.
They were protesting against New Zealand’s
rugby team which was touring apartheid South Africa.
Rodesia was also banned , because of its own version of apartheid.
But, inspite of all these political, & financial problems, many heros emerged.
Nadia Comaneci became synonymous
with Montreal. At only 14 years of age ,she scored 7
perfect 10.0s .These were the first perfect scores ever attained in an Olympic competition.
She won 3 gold medals in the
individual all-around, uneven bars and balance beam.
Edwin Moses (U.S.)also captured the gold in the 400m hurdles with a new record time
of 47.64 seconds. It was the third consecutive time
at an Olympics that this record had been broken.
He went on to do it again in Los Angeles (1984).
Bruce Jenner (U.S.) also took the gold in the decathlon
breaking the world record. (8617)
And the U.S. arguably had its best ever boxing team with three future world
Sugar Ray Leonard , and the Spinks brothers, Michael and Leon.
Leon and Michael Spinks each won a gold medal.
In the swimming events the East German women dominated
the 13 swimming events, whereas in the men’s
competition the United States dominated.
In women’s swimming, East Germany’s Kornelia Ender won 4 golds.
The GDR captured 11 of the 13 swimming events.
While in the men’s swimming , the U.S. led by John Naber (4 golds), won
12 of the 13 gold medals.
David Wilkie (U.K.) and Marina Koshevaia (USSR) were the only ones to break the
US/German monopoly of the pool.Both won the 200m breaststroke.
David Wilkie set a new world record (2:15.11) .
In track and field, Cuba’s Alberto Juantorena won
the 400m and 800m .
Irena Szewinska of Poland, in her 4th Olympics,
won the womens 400m in world record time (49.29).
She had won the 200m in Mexico eight years before, and another gold
in the 1964 4x100m relay.
And Lasse Viren (Finland) missed a third gold when he was
placed fifth in the marathon. He did however successfully defend his 5,000m and
10,000m titles.He finished the 5000m, 30m in front of his nearest rival.
Alwin Schockemohle (West Germany) became the third rider
in history to win the show jumping title with a perfect score.