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1960 Summer Olympic Games

A field of nearly 6,000 athletes from 83 nations took part in the games of the XVII Olympiad at Rome, Italy, August 25-September 11, 1960. More than 2,000,000 spectators viewed the 18-sport competition, in which athletes broke 54 Olympic records and established 14 new world records.

Official symbol of the 1960 Olympic Games.
official symbol of the 1960 Olympic Games

The host country spent more than $100,000,000 on structures to house the games, most of which remained as permanent additions to Rome's sports facilities. Besides the huge Olympic stadium itself, these included ten gymnasiums, five swimming pools, and two all-weather sports palaces. Some of Rome's ancient buildings were also utilized -- gymnastics competitions were held in the Baths of Caracalla, wrestling in the 4th-century Basilica of Maxentius, and field hockey in Mussolini's Stadio dei Marmi.

President Giovanni Gronchi of Italy proclaimed the games open on August 25. The Olympic oath was taken for all athletes by Adolfo Consolini, Italy's 1948 discus champion, who was competing in his fifth Olympiad.

Parade of the teams in the opening ceremonies of the XVII Summer Olympiad.
opening ceremonies of the XVII Olympiad



The United States won its fifth consecutive Olympic title without losing a game, defeating Brazil in the decisive game, 90-63. Stars of the U.S. team were Oscar Robertson of the University of Cincinnati, Jerry Lucas of Ohio State, Jerry West of West Virginia, and Terry Dischinger of Purdue. The U.S.S.R. came in second with a 78-70 defeat of Italy.


Light heavyweight Cassius Clay of the U.S. won by decision over Zbigniew Pietrzykowski of Poland, light middleweight Wilbert McClure of the U.S. won by decision over Italian Carmelo Bossi, and American middleweight Eddie Crook took a disputed decision from Tadeusz Walasek of Poland.


Antonina Seredina (U.S.S.R.) won two gold medals in the 500-meter women's kayak singles and 500-meter kayak doubles, teaming in the latter with Maria Shubina. The U.S.S.R. also took the gold medal in the 1,000-meter Canadian pairs, with Leonid Geyshter and Sergi Mararenko.


The death of Danish cyclist Knud Enemark Jensen in the team road race (of heatstroke on August 26), the first fatality in modern Olympic history, overshadowed the first of five Italian victories. Sante Gaiardoni, Italy, won two gold medals, setting an Olympic record of 1 minute 7.27 seconds in the 1,000-meter time trial and also taking the 1,000-meter scratch race.

Equestrian Events

Australian Lawrence Morgan and Italian Raimond d'Inzeo each won two gold medals, Morgan in the individual and team three-day competition, d'Inzeo in the jumping event and the Prix des Nations. Hans Winkler and Fritz Thiedemann of the 1956 team and newcomer Alwin Schockemohle retained team honors in the Prix des Nations for Germany.


Rudolph Karpati retained his individual title to help Hungary win its seventh straight sabre title. Italy won its third straight épée title, but lost the men's foil title to the U.S.S.R., which also won the women's foil event.

Field Hockey

After six consecutive Olympic titles, India was upset by Pakistan, 1-0, in the final round.


Japan upset the Soviet Union for the men's team title, but Soviet gymnasts did win a total of ten gold medals. Boris Chakhlin won the men's all-around and the parallel bars and tied for first in two other events. Larisa Latynina repeated as women's all-around champion and also won the free-standing exercises.

Modern Pentathlon

Ferenc Nemeth broke the individual record with 5,024 points and, with Imre Nagy second, Hungary established a team record with 14,863 points. Second place went to the Soviet Union, third to the United States.


A German eight-oar crew ended a Unitred States string of victories going back to 1920 with a winning time of 5 minutes 57.18 seconds.


William McMillan shot 587 out of 600 with the rapid-fire pistol to win the only gold medal for the United States. Alexei Gustchin of the U.S.S.R. set a free pistol Olympic record with 560 out of 600 and Viktor Shamburkin gave the U.S.S.R. another gold medal in the small-bore rifle event.


A coin toss after a 2-2 semifinal tie put Yugoslavia in the final round over Italy. Yugoslavia then defeated Denmark, upset winner over Hungary, for its first ever Olympic soccer title, 3-1.


All 15 events saw new Olympic records set and six new world records were set. All but one of the new world records were set by United States swimmers, with Anita Lonsbrough of the United Kingdom's record time of 2 minutes 49.5 seconds in the 200-meter breast stroke being the exception.

Three Australians successfully defended their 1956 Olympic titles: Dawn Fraser defeated Chris von Saltza of the United States in the women's 100-meter free style in 1 minute 1.2 seconds; Murray Rose won the men's 400-meter free style in 4 minutes 18.3 seconds; and David Theile won the 100-meter backstroke in 1 minute 1.9 seconds. Australian men completed their sweep of the individual free style events with John Devitt's controversial dfeat of American Lance Larson in the 100-meter in 55.2 seconds and Jon Konrads' defeat of teammate Murray Rose in the 1,500-meter in 17 minutes 19.6 seconds.

American male swimmers set three new world records: Mike Troy in the 200-meter butterfly at 2 minutes 12.8 seconds; the team of George Harrison, Dick Blick, Mike Troy, and Jeff Farrell in the 800-meter free style relay at 8 minutes 10.2 seconds; and the team of Frank McKinney, Paul Hait, Lance Larson, and Jeff Farrell in the 400-meter medley relay at 4 minutes 5.4 seconds.

The United States women's team was led by Chris von Saltza, who won the 400-meter free style over Jane Cederqvist of Sweden in 4 minutes 50.6 seconds and anchored two world record relay teams. Joan Spillane, Shirley Stobs, and Carolyn Wood joined her on the 400-meter free style relay team, which set a new world record of 4 minutes 8.9 seconds. Lynn Burke, Patty Kempner, and Carolyn Schuler were her teammates for the 400-meter medley relay, in which they set a new world record of 4 minutes 41.1 seconds. Burke and Schuler were also individual gold medalists, with a 100-meter backstroke of 1 minute 9.3 seconds and 100-meter butterfly of 1 minute 9.5 seconds, respectively.

Chris von Saltza, winner of the gold medal in the women's 400-meter free-style and a member of the victorious medley and free-style teams.
Chris von Saltza

The United States lost the women's 3-meter and 10-meter platform diving events for the first time as Ingrid Kramer of Germany defeated Paula Jean Pope in both events. The women's losses were offset somewhat by Gary Tobian becoming the ninth consecutive American to win the men's springboard dive and Bob Webster regaining the platform title, which had been won by Juan Capilla Pérez of Mexico in 1956.

Track and Field, Men

One of the greatest groups of track and field athletes ever assembled broke 3 world records, tied 2 others, smashed 19 Olympic records, and tied 1. Two of the world records fell within 15 minutes on September 6: American Otis Davis edged Carl Kaufmann of Germany in the 400-meter with a time of 44.9 seconds (Kaufmann was credited with the same time) and Herb Elliott of Australia beat his own 1,500-meter record with a time of 3 minutes 35.6 seconds and won the event by a 20-yard margin. The same day saw American Rafer Johnson defeat C.K. Yang of Formosa in the decathlon, 8,392 points to 8,334 points. The third world record was broken when the United States team of Jack Yerman, Earl Young, Glenn Davis, and Otis Davis defeated Germany in the 1,600-meter relay by a margin of three yards in 3 minutes 2.2 seconds.

Rafer Johnson putting the shot in the decathlon, which he won with a total of 8,392 points, an Olympic record.
Rafer Johnson

Livio Berruti of Italy won the 200-meter in 20.5 seconds to equal the world record for that event. The German team of Bernd Cullman, Armin Hary, Walter Mahlendorf, and Martin Lauer equaled the world record of 39.5 seconds for the 400-meter relay.

John Thomas of the U.S., holder of the world's high jump record, came in third with a leap of 7 feet 1/4 inches. Soviet athletes Robert Shavlakadze and Valery Beumel both cleared 7 feet 1-1/16 inches to set a new Olympic record; Shavlakadze was awarded the gold medal because of fewer misses.

Three U.S. athletes who won gold medals at the 1956 Olympics retained their crowns, and all three led U.S. sweeps of the first three places in their events. Glenn Davis broke his own Olympic record for the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 49.3 seconds; Cliff Cushman and Dick Howard placed second and third, respectively. Al Oerter raised his discus record to 194 feet 1-7/8 inches, with Rink Babka and Dick Cochran taking the silver and bronze. Lee Calhoun's time of 13.8 seconds failed to match his record for the 110-meter hurdles (13.5 seconds) but was good enough to beat Wille May and Hayes Jones, the latter narrowly beating Martin Lauer of Germany. William Nieder of the United States thwarted teammate Parry O'Brien's bid for a third straight shot-put title with his Olympic record toss of 64 feet 6-13/16 inches; O'Brien ended up with a silver medal and another teammate, Dallas Long, got the bronze. Two other American gold medalists also set new Olympic marks: Don Bragg, with a pole vault of 15 feet 5-1/16 inches; and Ralph Boston, with a broad jump of 26 feet 7-11/16 inches.

Don Bragg practicing the pole vault before the games opened. He went on to win the gold medal with a vault of 15 feet 5-1/16 inches, an Olympic record.
Don Bragg

A hammer throw of 220 feet 2-11/16 inches by Vasily Rudenkov of the Soviet Union set a new Olympic record. Another Olympic record was set by Peter Snell of New Zealand, who narrowly defeated Roger Moens of Belgium in the 800-meter with a time of 1 minute 46.3 seconds. Armin Hary of Germany won the 100-meter in an Olympic record 10.2 seconds in a photo finish with Dave Sime of the United States.

Peter Snell touching the tape at the finish line just ahead of Roger Moens to win the 800-meter race in the time of 1 minute 46.3 seconds.
Peter Snell

Track and Field, Women

Wilma Rudolph of the United States earned individual gold medals in the 100- and 200-meter races and was part of the gold medal-winning 400-meter relay team. Although her time of 11 seconds in the 100-meter broke the world record, she was denied that record because officials determined that she had been aided by excessive following winds. She did set a new Olympic record of 23.2 seconds in the 200-meter and, with Martha Hudson, Lucinda Williams, and Barbara Jones, set a new world record of 44.4 seconds in the 400-meter relay trials; the relay team won the final in 44.5 seconds.

Wilma Rudolph winning the women's 100-meter sprint. She also won the 200-meter race and anchored the victorious 400-meter relay team.
Wilma Rudolph

All but one of the other events were won by athletes from the U.S.S.R., four of whom also set new Olympic records: Vera Krepkina, with a broad jump of 20 feet 10-13/14 inches; Tamara Press, with a shot-put of 56 feet 9-7/8 inches; Nina Ponomareva, with a discus throw of 180 feet 9-1/4 inces; and Elvira Ozolina, with a javelin throw of 183 feet 7-13/16 inches. Ludmila Shevcova tied the 800-meter world record of 2 minutes 4.3 seconds. The lone exception was Yolanda Balas of Romania, who won the high jump with an Olympic record leap of 6 feet 13/16 inches. Irina Press of the U.S.S.R., who won the 80-meter hurdles in 10.8 seconds, was the only other gold medalist to not break or tie a record in women's track and field.

Irina Press jumping a hurdle in the semi-finals of the 80-meter race. She won the final event in 10.8 seconds.
Irina Press

Water Polo

The Italians regained the title they last won in 1948, while the Soviet Union came in second and defending champion Hungary finished third.

Weight Lifting

The U.S.S.R. won five of the seven gold medals and broke four world records. The records were broken by lightweight Viktor Bushuev, 876 pounds; middleweight Alexander Kurynov, 964.5 pounds; middle heavyweight Arkadi Vorobiev, 1,039.5 pounds; and heavyweight Yuri Vlasov, 1,184.5 pounds. Featherweight Yevgeni Minaev tied the world record with a lift of 821 pounds. The non-Soviet winners were light heavyweight Ireneusz Palinski of Poland with a lift of 975.5 pounds and bantamweight Charles Vinci of the United States with a world record-tying lift of 760.5 pounds.


Turkey won seven gold medals, four in free style and three in Greco-Roman. The United States surprised many by taking three free-style golds with Terry McCann, Shelby Wilson, and Doug Blubaugh.

Terry McCann, winner of bantamweight free-style wrestling, in a match with T. Trojanowski of Poland.
Terry McCann


Crown Prince Constantine of Greece led a crew in the Dragon class that scored his nation's only Olympic victory. Five nations divided honors in the races held on Naples Bay with American George O'Day winning the 5.5-meter class.

Print Source

Britannica Book of the Year Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1961

Internet Source

International Olympic Committee

See Also

In the Year 1960

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This page was last updated on September 07, 2018.