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A Photo Retrospective of Olympians from 1900-2012

london 2012, olympics, vintage olympics, olympic history, olympic uniforms, memorable olympic moments

Olympian Charlotte Cooper in 1900.

If the peak physical condition of Team USA’s athletes felt a bit intimidating to you as you sat on the couch watching Ryan Lochte win gold while you pounded a can of Pringles, don’t worry. Olympians weren’t always quite so chiseled. In fact, around the turn of the last century, many male Olympians looked more like Babe Ruth than Michael Phelps. Nor were Olympic uniforms always quite so revealing; In 1900, the first female tennis champion played in an ankle-length skirt. Want to know more? Take a look at the physiques, fashion and politics of Olympians from 1900-2012:


  • Charlotte Cooper, 1900 Games in Paris 1 of 11
    Charlotte Cooper, 1900 Games in Paris
    Charlotte Cooper won five singles titles at Wimbledon in addition to becoming singles champion at the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris, where women were allowed to participate for the first time.
    Photo credit: Wikipedia
  • Thomas Hicks, 1904 Games in St. Louis 2 of 11
    Thomas Hicks, 1904 Games in St. Louis
    Hicks came in second during the marathon, but he was declared the winner after it was discovered that Fred Lorz, the first man to cross the finish, actually traveled by car for much of the race. In this photo, Hicks is being helped by his aides, who gave him two doses of Strychnine during the race. A third would have killed him.
    Photo credit: Wikipedia
  • Jim Thorpe, 1912 Games in Stockholm 3 of 11
    Jim Thorpe, 1912 Games in Stockholm
    Jim Thorpe was a professional football, basketball and baseball player who won the pentathlon and decathlon at the 1912 Games in Stockholm. His decathlon record of 8,413 points held for almost two decades.
    Photo credit: Wikipedia
  • Jesse Owens, 1936 Games in Berlin 4 of 11
    Jesse Owens, 1936 Games in Berlin
    Owens won gold in the 100- and 200-meter sprints, the long jump and the relay. It's incredible that while Hitler was using the Berlin Games as a propaganda tool, Owens was hailed as a hero. Here's Owens on the medal stand; you can his American salute next to those heiling Hitler. Creepy.
    Photo credit: Wikipedia
  • Dana Pickova, 1948 Games in London 5 of 11
    Dana Pickova, 1948 Games in London
    Czech archer Dana Pickova at the 1948 games. I love this photo for so many reasons, including the way her old-fashioned bra shows through her shirt, her fabulous sunhat and her glorious moustache.
    Photo credit: We Heart Vintage
  • Micheline Ostermeyer, 1948 Games in London 6 of 11
    Micheline Ostermeyer, 1948 Games in London
    French Discus Competitor Micheline Ostermeyer. Love this uniform! The 1948 Games were dubbed the "Austerty Olympics," and Britain was still very much recovering from the war. Athletes were only rationed one small piece of meat per day. Can you imagine?
    Photo credit: We Heart Vintage
  • Vera Caslavska, 1964 Games in Tokyo 7 of 11
    Vera Caslavska, 1964 Games in Tokyo
    Czech gymnast Vera Caslavska (center) holds the record for the most gold medals in individual events as an Olympic gymnast. She won gold at the 1964 Games in Tokyo and the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. In Mexico City, Caslavska turned her head down and away as the Soviet anthem played in protest of the Soviet invasion of Prague two months prior. Caslavska is pictured here in her famous beehive at the 1967 European Championships.
    Photo credit: Wikipedia
  • Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman, 1968 Games in Mexico City 8 of 11
    Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman, 1968 Games in Mexico City
    U.S. athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who took gold and bronze in the 200 meters, performed the Black Power salute on the victory stand in Mexico City. The silver medal winner, Peter Norman of Australia, wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge in support of Smith and Carlos, who stood on the podium shoeless but wearing black socks to represent black poverty. Carlos wore his jacket unzipped to show solidarity with blue collar workers and wore a necklace of beads "for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for." Smith and Carlos were suspended as a result of their actions and left the Olympic village.
    Photo credit: Wikipedia
  • Steve Prefontaine, 1972 Games in Munich 9 of 11
    Steve Prefontaine, 1972 Games in Munich
    The heavily moustached U.S. runner Steve Prefontaine in the 5000m final of the 1972 Munich Olympics. The Munich Games were marred by the Munich Massacre, wherein members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and eventually killed by the Palestinian group Black September.
    Photo credit: Flickr User The Happy Rower
  • Florence Griffith-Joyner, 1988 Games in Seoul 10 of 11
    Florence Griffith-Joyner, 1988 Games in Seoul
    Flo-Jo, as she was called, won three gold medals in Seoul, where she was accused of steroid use. Joyner was tested, but no illegal drugs were found in her system. At the 1988 Olympics, Joyner set a new world record for the 200m sprint and then broke it again herself. Plus, she had fabulous nails. Joyner died in 1998; she was only 38 years old.
    Photo credit: Wikipedia
  • Ryan Lochte, 2012 Games in London 11 of 11
    Ryan Lochte, 2012 Games in London
    Swimmer Ryan Lochte (pictured here in 2009) secured the first gold medal for the U.S. in the 2012 Olympic Games, besting his rival and 16-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps during the 400m IM. He looks great in spandex.
    Photo credit: Flickr User NicoleElocin

 

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