Games of the X Olympiad
Los Angeles (USA)
30 July - 14 August 1932
Sport in the Time of Depression
Because the 1932 Olympic Games were held in the middle of the Great Depression and in the comparatively remote city of Los Angeles – a trip to the West Coast of the USA was a long one for Europeans – half as many athletes took part compared to 1928. The economic crisis had also affected equestrian sport. Aachen in Germany, already one of the greatest shows, had only three nations in their 1931 and 1932 Nations Cups.
The great absentee from the equestrian competitions in Los Angeles was Germany. Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Poland and Czechoslovakia – all medal winners four years previously in Amsterdam also stayed away. France only sent a Dressage team; The Netherlands only its strong Eventers. Sweden was fully represented, but to save money, the Eventing riders also had to take part in the Jumping competition. The US had full representation. In addition there were Mexicans – who had the shortest journey - and an Eventer and a Jumping rider from Japan.
The equestrian events were run by the US Cavalry Association, then the National Federation of the USA, affiliated to the FEI. Its president was Guy Henry, Olympic rider in 1912, now chief of the US Cavalry and, since 1931, FEI President.
By Earth and by Sea
It is interesting how the teams travelled to Los Angeles. The Japanese team came by ship from Yokohama to Los Angeles. The Dutch sailed through the Panama Canal directly to Los Angeles, France and Sweden took a ship to New York, then travelled by railroad across the USA, as did the Mexicans.
The most interesting arrangements were those of the Dutch. They remembered that the US equestrian team, travelling by ship to Amsterdam in 1928, had kept their horses fit by hiring the treadmill used during the filming of Ben Hur with its chariot races. The Dutch constructed their own treadmill and kept their horses busy during the voyage.
Games Facts & Figures
- 37 nations
- 1,332 athletes (126 women;1,206 men)
- 14 sports
- 100,000 people who attended the Opening Ceremony
- The 1932 Olympics were the first to last 16 days. The duration of the Olympics has remained between 15 and 18 days ever since. Between 1900 and 1928, no Summer Olympic Games were shorter than 79 days.
- The 1932 Olympic Games probably had the first real press service – it began operating in 1929 – and did an intensive promotion campaign. They became a huge public success.
- At the victory ceremonies, the medal winners stood on a victory stand and the flag of the winner was raised.
- Official automatic timing was introduced for the track events, as was the photo-finish camera.
The amazing thing about these otherwise rather irrelevant Olympic equestrian events of 1932 in Los Angeles is the fact that all three individual gold medal horses were French-bred: Taine (Dressage) – Marcroix (Eventing) – Uranus (Jumping).