Paris 1924, the Olympics that took the Games 'faster, higher, stronger'

The 1924 Paris Olympics, which opened 100 years ago this week, marked a turning point for the event. That year saw the Olympics adopt a new motto – "Faster, Higher, Stronger" – and begin their transformation into the elite sporting spectacle they are today.

1924 was the year the Olympics came of age.

The modern Games were less than three decades old at the time and organisers were still in the process of defining them.

The official motto the International Olympic Committee (IOC) adopted that year – Citius, Altius, Fortius, Latin for "Faster, Higher, Stronger" – revealed what it hoped the event would become: a place not just to play games, but to break records.

National committees were becoming more numerous the world over, and more selective. The first time Paris had hosted the Games, in 1900, 26 countries sent around 1,200 competitors. In 1924, more than 3,000 athletes from 44 countries descended on Paris, many of them only after proving themselves domestic champions in national try-outs.

Meanwhile organisers were refining the list of events. Gone was the tug-of-war, military pistol shooting and equestrian vaulting, leaving disciplines like athletics, aquatics and gymnastics to take centre stage.

Some hangovers from another age remained: rope climbing and tandem cycling, for instance, not to mention the arts portion of the competition that saw painters, sculptors, musicians, writers and architects vie for medals.

The performances drew crowds of up to 60,000 a day, unprecedented at the time.

The new attention made global superstars of some competitors, chief among them Johnny Weissmuller.


Read more on RFI English

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