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  • Olympic Champions Gather to Mark Rome Olympic Anniversary


    Italian president Giorgio Napolitano will welcome Olympic champions from the 1960 Olympics to the Quirinal Palace. (Getty Images)
    (ATR) Champions of the 1960 Rome Olympic Games, as well as every Olympic and Paralympic champion in Italian history are gathering in Rome on Friday for a ceremony as part of the city’s celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the Games.

    The ceremony will be held at Italy’s presidential palace, in the heart of the city and with president Giorgio Napolitano attending.

    In addition to the Olympians, led by top officials of the Italian Olympic Committee, IOC members who took part in the Games will also attend the ceremony.

    Among them is Richard Pound, who competed in Rome as an 18-year-old swimmer. In an interview with Around the Rings, Pound said he remembers a special atmosphere in the Eternal City of 50 years ago.

    “It was pretty exciting and the setting was fabulous. All these great swimmers … Michael Troy, Terry Gathercole, Murray Rose, Dawn Fraser, the track and field, every event seemed to have a hero,” Pound said. “Cassius Clay was this big brash kid who took all
    Cassius Clay won boxing gold at the Rome Olympics. (Getty Images)
    of the oxygen out of the air.”

    It was Pound’s first trip to Europe.

    “I think your first Olympics are special. You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” he said.

    The IOC member, who also served as the Head of the World Anti Doping Agency, recalled a more recent encounter, with swimmer Michael Phelps, in Vancouver. “I said to him ‘I saw you in Beijing and I was in the Games 48 years before you’. I can remember when we looked back at the times for Stockholm in 1912 and laughed at the time, as if they were caveman drawings.”

    Among the other IOC members participating in the ceremony will be Australians Phil Coles (canoeing) and Kevan Gosper (athletics), Francis Nyangweso of Uganada (boxing), Peter Tallberg of Finland (sailing) and Constantine, the former king of Greece, also a sailor.

    Rome is marking the 50th anniversary of the 1960 Games with a series of events, which included the symbolic re-lightening of the Olympic flame and a number of sport events.

    The Games were the first Olympics to be commercially broadcast. They also marked the start of the age of African athletes in long-distance running, and registered the first death resulting from doping.

    Rome is now vying to host the Games again in 2020.

    Written by Marta Falconi.

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