Friday, August 22, 2008

Mao's successor Hua Guofeng dies

Former Chinese leader Hua Guofeng dies

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BEIJING: Hua Guofeng, who briefly ruled China as communist founder Mao Zedong's successor but was pushed aside by Deng Xiaoping as a prelude to reforms that launched an economic boom, died Wednesday at the age of 87, state-run media reported.

State broadcaster CCTV said that Hua died of an unspecified illness.

He took power after Mao's death in September 1976, but saw his powers erode until Deng took control two years later. Hua was forced out as Communist Party chairman in 1981 and slipped into obscurity.

In contrast to the harsh purges of earlier eras, when fallen leaders were banished to remote villages, Hua remained part of the inner circle as a member of the party's Central Committee.

Shortly after Hua took power, Mao's widow, Jiang Qing, and other members of the Gang of Four were arrested, marking the end of the violent 1966-76 Cultural Revolution. But it wasn't clear whether Hua played any part in the arrests.

When he was forced out as party leader in 1981, one stated reason was that Hua had continued to espouse the ultraradical ideals of the Cultural Revolution.

Little is known about Hua's final years. Some reports said he resigned from the party for health reasons in 2001, the year he turned 80, but the government didn't confirm that.

Born to a poor family in 1921, Hua became a guerrilla fighter in Mao's communist movement at 15 when it was battling for survival against Chiang Kai-shek's ruling Nationalists.

After the 1949 revolution, Hua served in provincial government and party posts until he was named to the Central Committee in 1969. He became party secretary of Hunan, Mao's home province, the following year.

Hua was named vice premier in 1975 and then premier, succeeding the late Zhou Enlai.

After Mao's death, as rival factions struggled for power, Hua became a compromise candidate to head the party. Mao was said to have told him, "With you in charge, I'm at ease."

Hua was described in the official press as "the wise" leader, a step below Mao, the former "great leader."

When Hua took power, China was in the grip of the Cultural Revolution, launched by Mao as an attack on potential rivals. Millions were persecuted while the economy was pushed to the brink of collapse.

The arrests of the Gang of Four symbolically ended the era of upheaval and self-imposed isolation.

Hua made a highly publicized trip to Eastern Europe in 1978 and visited Britain the next year.

But Deng, who saw Hua as an obstacle to his economic plans, already was maneuvering to replace him. Deng had been purged in Mao's final years but was restored to his official posts in July, 1977.

Hua was effectively stripped of his powers at a party meeting in December, 1978. The same gathering approved Deng's "reform and opening" policy legalizing small-scale private farms, the first step in what became China's successful capitalist reform program.

Hua resigned as premier in September, 1980, and was replaced by economist Zhao Ziyang, a Deng protege. The following year, Deng had Hua replaced as party secretary general by Hu Yaobang.

Both Zhao and Hu would later be dismissed by Deng — Hu in the mid-1980s after he was blamed for allowing student protests and Zhao after the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations.

Early state media reports credited Hua with presiding over the downfall of the Gang of Four.

But by February 1979, papers quoted him as saying he wanted the "wise leader" tag dropped. In December 1980, he no longer was credited with the "Gang of Four" arrest.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mummified remains identified - 17 Aug 2008. Crashed Plane

Mummified remains identified

ANCHORAGE - IT took nine years of sleuthing and advanced DNA science and cutting-edge forensic techniques, but a mummified hand and arm found in an Alaska glacier have been identified.
The remains belong to Francis Joseph Van Zandt, a 36-year-old merchant marine from Roanoke, Virginia, who was on a plane rumored to contain lots of gold when it smashed into the side of a mountain in 1948.

Thirty people died in the crash of Northwest Airlines flight 4422.

'This is the oldest identification of fingerprints by post-mortem remains,' said latent fingerprint expert Mike Grimm Sr, during a teleconference on Friday, where the two pilots who found the remains, genetic scientists, genealogists and others talked about the discovery.

Twenty-four merchant marines and six crewmen died in the crash on March 12, 1948.

They were going from China to New York City when the DC-4 went into the side of Mount Sanford, perhaps because the pilots were blinded by an unusually intense aurora borealis that night.

The wreckage disappeared into the glacier within a few days.

The DC-4 was rumored to hold the gold because the merchant marines had just delivered an oil tanker to Shanghai.

While no gold was found, the two commercial airline pilots who discovered the wreckage found themselves on a scientific adventure filled with high-tech sleuthing.

The pilots, Kevin McGregor and Marc Millican, discovered the mummified remains in 1999 while recovering artifacts to identify the wreckage they had found two years earlier.

An Alaska State Trooper flew to the glacier to take possession of the remains, which were flown to Anchorage where the state medical examiner at that time obtained inked prints. The remains then were embalmed.

The Alaska Department of Public Safety attempted to match the fingerprints to numerous databases but came up empty because the details of the fingerprints were unclear.

A few pieces of the arm were sent to a commercial DNA laboratory.

However, no data could be obtained because the remains, having been in a frozen and dehydrated state for decades, were too degraded.

In 2002, the arm and hand were sent to a DNA expert in Canada.

Dr Ryan Parr at Genesis Genomics in Thunder Bay, Canada, was able to extract some DNA. However, it was still necessary to locate family members related to the victim for a mitochondrial DNA match.

In 2006, Dr Odile Loreille at the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory in Rockville, Maryland, was asked to help.

Her expertise is extracting DNA from the embalmed remains of unidentified soldiers from the Korean War.

Dr Loreille developed new methods that allowed her to read the hand and arm's mitochondrial DNA, that is DNA passed down by females.

'I managed to get a mitochondrial sequence,' she said. 'Now I just needed some relatives to compare.'

That's when forensic genealogist Dr Colleen Fitzpatrick got involved in the frustrating search for living relatives of the victims. She and her assistants found family members of 16 of the victims, but no DNA matches.

In the meantime, Grimm Sr, and his son, Mike Grimm Jr, began work with Edward Robinson, a professor of forensic science at George Washington University.

Mr Robinson made several attempts to rehydrate the fingers to raise the fingerprint swirls, but by this time only the layer of skin below the outer epidermal layer remained.

Mr Robinson tried again with a newly-developed rehydrating solution.

The fingers were soaked in the fluid and checked on hourly. Special imaging techniques then were used to produce a complete set of fully legible fingerprints.

On Sept 6, 2007, the prints were compared with some kept at the National Marine Center in Arlington, Virginia, and a match was found.

In the meantime, Dr Loreille confirmed the finding with nuclear DNA from a nephew of Van Zandt's. A genealogist also located a relative whose mitochondrial DNA matched the remains. The man's DNA also was a nuclear match. -- AP

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

1. Obituary: Alexander Solzhenitsyn dies at 89

Solzhenitsyn had been ill for years

Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who exposed Stalin's prison system in his novels and spent 20 years in exile, has died near Moscow at the age of 89.

The author of The Gulag Archipelago and One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich, who returned to Russia in 1994, died of either a stroke or heart failure.

The Nobel laureate had suffered from high blood pressure in recent years.

After returning to Russia, Solzhenitsyn wrote several polemics on Russian history and identity.

His son Stepan was quoted by one Russian news agency as saying his father died of heart failure, while another agency quoted literary sources as saying he had suffered a stroke.

He died in his home in the Moscow area, where he had lived with his wife Natalya, at 2345 local time (1945 GMT) on Sunday, Stepan told Itar-Tass.

Mrs Solzhenitsyn told Moscow Echo radio her husband lived "a difficult but happy life".
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sent his condolences to the writer's family, a Kremlin spokesperson said.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, whose reforms led to the end of communism in the country, said Solzhenitsyn played a key role in undermining Stalin's totalitarian regime.

His works "changed the consciousness of millions of people", Mr Gorbachev said.

Prisoner, patient, writer

Solzhenitsyn served as a Soviet artillery officer in World War II and was decorated for his courage but in 1945 was denounced for criticising Stalin in a letter.

He spent the next eight years in the Soviet prison system, or Gulag, before being internally exiled to Kazakhstan, where he was successfully treated for stomach cancer
Publication in 1962 of the novella Denisovich, an account of a day in a Gulag prisoner's life, made him a celebrity during the post-Stalin political thaw.

However, within a decade, the writer awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize for Literature was out of favour again for his work, and was being harassed by the KGB secret police.

In 1973, the first of the three volumes of Archipelago, a detailed account of the systematic Soviet abuses from 1918 to 1956 in the vast network of its prison and labour camps, was published in the West.

Its publication sparked a furious backlash in the Soviet press, which denounced him as a traitor.

Early in 1974, the Soviet authorities stripped him of his citizenship and expelled him from the country.
He settled in Vermont, in the US, where he completed the other two volumes of Archipelago.

While living there as a recluse, he railed against what he saw as the moral corruption of the West.

Scathing of Boris Yeltsin's brand of democracy, he did not return to Russia immediately upon the cHis homecoming in 1994 was a dramatic affair as he travelled in slowly by land from the Russian Far East.

Years later he was embraced by then-Russian President Vladimir Putin, who presented him with Russia's State Prize.

There was significant irony in the fierce critic of Soviet repression being hailed by a former senior officer of the KGB, says the BBC's James Rodgers in Moscow.

Mr Putin described Solzhenitsyn's death as a "heavy loss for Russia".

Solzhenitsyn's latter works, which included essays on Russia's future, stirred controversy.

In 2000, his last major work Two Hundred Years Together examined the position of Jews in Russian society and their role in the Revolution.


Born: 11 December 1918
1945: sentenced to eight years for anti-Soviet activities
1962: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich published in Russia
1970: Awarded Nobel Prize for Literature
1974: First volume of The Gulag Archipelago published
13 February 1974: Exiled from his native Russia
1994: Returns to Russia
3 August 2008: dies in Moscow

In Quotes

In quotes: Death of Solzhenitsyn
World leaders, literary figures and campaigners have been giving their reactions following the death of Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

(Solzhenitsyn's death) "is a heavy loss for the whole of Russia. We are proud that Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was our countryman and contemporary. We will remember him as a strong, brave person with enormous dignity.

Like millions of citizens, Solzhenitsyn lived through tough times. He was one of the first to talk about the inhumane Stalinist regime and about the people who experienced it but were not broken.

Until the end of his days he fought for Russia not only to move away from its totalitarian past but also to have a worthy future, to become a truly free and democratic country. We owe him a lot.

His intransigence, his ideals and his long, eventful life make Solzhenitsyn a hero from a novel, an heir to Dostoyevsky. He belongs to the pantheon of world history. I pay homage to his memory.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn will be remembered as an intellectual who provided us with a testimony, tinged with suffering, and a sharp and accurate view on the tragedies of 20th Century totalitarianism.

Russia today lost a great fighter for truth, who worked to reconcile the Russians with their past. The world loses a figure of freedom.

Solzhenitsyn was the mirror of the tragic, ironical Russian history. It's a rather complex, confused, tragic and ironical fate to go through all these tragic tribulations and to end being almost officially accepted by the gang that was at the birth of most powerful denouncing.

This is a huge blow to Russia, a blow to each of us. We have grown under the sign of Solzhenitsyn.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn always said what he thought, without caring about the consequences, without caring how the authorities would react. He was not afraid to be alone.

He embodied resistance and truth. He embodied discourse at a time when no-one wanted to hear. He was the person who dared to point the finger when no-one wanted to see what was happening.

(Solzhenitsyn) is of such size that it can't be exaggerated and therefore we can't discuss him as an artist or a political figure. He is like a saga's hero - something much more than can be compared with real human possibilities.

It's a great loss for our family. It's also a loss for the country. He was always really happy he returned. This is his home.

(He) had a difficult but happy life. We were very happy together

In his own words
Please note: this is the final passage of the book

Shukhov felt pleased with life as he went to sleep. A lot of good things had happened that day. He hadn't been thrown in the hole. The gang hadn't been dragged off to Sotsgorodok [settlement]. He'd swiped the extra gruel at dinnertime. The foreman had got a good rate for the job. He'd enjoyed working on the wall. He hadn't been caught with the blade at the searchpoint. He'd earned a bit from Tsezar that evening. And he'd bought his tobacco.

The end of an unclouded day. Almost a happy one.

Just one of the three thousand six hundred and fifty-three days of his sentence, from bell to bell.

The extra three were for leap years.

People in the West have acquired considerable skill in using, interpreting and manipulating law, even though laws tend to be too complicated for an average person to understand without the help of an expert...

It is time, in the West, to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.

Destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society appears to have little defence against the abyss of human decadence, such as, for example, misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, motion pictures full of pornography, crime and horror.

It is considered to be part of freedom and theoretically counter-balanced by the young people's right not to look or not to accept. Life organised legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil.

extract from his speech at Harvard University, 1978

I can't say that I wrote my books in order to open the eyes of the West to what had been going on in the East. Above all, I wrote all my books for the benefit of my own people, for the Russians, because [we] ourselves don't know our own history.

It's not just the West that doesn't know our history; we ourselves have lost it. Recent events, both pre- and post-Revolutionary, have been wiped out. The documents have been burnt, the witnesses killed. So I have been working to reconstruct the truth, all the truth about my own country, and this is what I have done primarily for our own people's benefit.

speaking to the BBC in 1974

I never doubted that communism was doomed to collapse, but I was always afraid of how Russia would emerge from that communism and at what price. I know I am coming back to a worn-out, discouraged, shell-shocked, Russia which has changed beyond recognition and is wandering about in search of itself.

from a speech in Vladivostok on his return to Russia from exile in 1994

The main achievement is that Russia has revived its influence in the world.

But morally we are too far from what is needed. This cannot be achieved by the state, through parliamentarianism...

As far as the state, the public mind and the economy is concerned, Russia is still far away from the country of which I dreamed.

his last TV interview, 2007

Cold War Olympics - Emil Zatopek of Czechoslovakia. The Czech Locomotive


Emil Zátopek (September 19, 1922 – November 22, 2000) a Czech runner, was the first and only man ever to win the "triple crown" of the 5,000- and 10,000-meter races as well as the marathon in a single Olympics. He is considered to be one of the creators of interval training, a method that is still used by athletes today. His sessions such as 100 x 400m are the stuff of legend among athletics aficionados, as are the training runs in the woods in army boots or the runs with Dana on his back as part of the strengthening programme prior to Melbourne. It was Zatopek who ushered in the era of the high-volume training which led to the rewriting of the record-books in the sixties

Emil Zatopek was born on September 19, 1922, in Koprinivince, Czechoslovakia. His father was a carpenter who raised eight children. Zatopek began running at the age of 16, when he was working in the Buta shoe factory. In 1941, the shoe factory sponsored a race through the streets of the town of Zlin. Zatopek had never competed before and did not want to run in the race, but was forced to by his employer. As Richard Benyo noted in The Masters of the Marathon, "He finished second, probably motivated more by the desire to get it over with than the wish to shine in the event." Zatopek ran a few more races in the next year, but was not passionately interested in running.

However, coaches and trainers marked him as a talented young runner. In his first official race, a 3,000-meter run, he came in second only to his trainer. A newspaper reported, "A good performance by Zatopek." He read that line over and over; it was the seed of all his future ambitions in running. When the USSR invaded Czechoslovakia during World War II, Zatopek joined the army. Instead of running on roads, he ran in his army boots during his guard duty, training every day regardless of weather, and using a flashlight to run in the dark if necessary.

The Helsinki Olympics

In 1952, the Olympic Games were scheduled to be held in Helsinki, Finland. They were the subject of a great deal of speculation because athletes from the Soviet Union and its satellite countries would be participating for the first time since 1917. It was the time of the Cold War, and tension between the Communist governments and the USA was high. The countries diverted their mutual competition into the Games. At the Olympics, however, athletes from behind the Iron Curtain and those from the West coexisted peacefully, inviting each other into their quarters and competing with honor.

Zatopek was the star of the track events that year despite a doctor's warning that he shouldn't compete due to a gland infection two months before

At the previous Olympics held in London in 1948, he had won a gold medal in the 10,000-meter race and a silver medal in the 5,000.

In Helsinki, Zatopek won the 10,000 meters with ease, setting a new Olympic world record by almost 43 seconds. In the 5,000, he was trailing until the final turn, where he sprinted and won by a little less than a second, setting another Olympic record.

Zatopek's wife, Dana Zatopkova, was also an athlete. After he won his second gold, he loaned the medal to her just before she began competing in the javelin throw. She put it in her bag for good luck, and with her first throw, set a new Olympic record and won the event.

Zatopek had never won a marathon before, but buoyed by his two wins, announced that he would compete in the Olympic marathon, three days after the 5,000-meter race.

The Beast of Prague

Zatopek was not a graceful runner, and was famous for his horrifying style.

Newspapers called him "The Beast of Prague," "The Czech Express," and "The Human Locomotive," because of his distorted appearance while running. Charlie Lovett wrote in Olympic Marathon and describes him aptly, "Each step for the Czech runner looked as though it might be his last. His face was constantly contorted as if in terrible pain, his head rolled wildly, and his arms were held high, as if to clutch at his heart. Anyone who watched Zatopek run for a few steps would assume he was on the point of collapse. And, anyone who had run a marathon knew that such a style wasted valuable energy and was not likely to lead to completion of the race, much less victory. Zatopek, however, was not a runner who dealt in likelihoods."

Benyo wrote, "His style has been described as similar to a man just stabbed in the heart, his head would roll back as though his eyes were attempting to see over the top of his head, his tongue would loll out of his mouth, and an expression of pain would cross his face as though he were about to drop to the ground from a mortal wound. His arm movements were spastic, one would drop so low that it appeared as though he were trying to scratch his knee. Each step appeared to be torture." Despite his unusual style, he was known for his good humor, enthusiasm, and love of running; Benyo described him as "charming, warm, intelligent, guileless and totally unaffected by his fame as well as undaunted by his frequent turns of fortune."

Zatopek was well-known as one of the inventors of a system of training called "interval training," which is still used by athletes. In this system, a runner covers a short distance very quickly, then rests while running more slowly, then runs the distance again, rests again, runs again, and so on. This training builds speed and endurance, unlike running long distances at a steady pace, which builds only endurance. It was his interval training that made him feel he would be able to compete in the marathon; he would be the first runner ever to attempt to win the 5,000, 10,000, and marathon in a single Olympics.

The Helsinki Marathon

At the marathon, Jim Peters of Great Britain, who held the world record with a time of 2:20:42, was expected to win. He had a time about five minutes better than all his prospective competitors in Helsinki. This included the marathon virgin, Emil Zatopek.

At the start Zatopek sought out Jim Peters, looking to the favourite to help him pace the longest event. Looking for Peter's number (187) the Czech marathon debutant found the British world record holder and asked "Hello are you Peters?" Jim Peters said 'yes' and Zatopek then said "I am Emil Zatopek from Czechoslovakia, I am very pleased to see you."

From the beginning Peters set a fast pace, with the first five kilometres completed in 15 minutes 43 seconds, then the 10 kilometre mark was passed in 31 minutes 55 seconds.

At the 15km mark, Zatopek asked Peters, "Jim, the pace. Is it good enough?"

Peters replied "Pace too slow", even though he was beginning to feel the effects of his efforts so far.

Zatopek considered this reply and then said "You say too slow. Are you sure the pace is too slow?"

Peters again said 'yes', at which point Zatopek shrugged his shoulders, before making his move nearing the 20 kilometres mark.

Swede Gustaff Jansson kept pace with Zatopek as Peters fell behind. By the half way mark, Zatopek and the Swede were equal first (1.04.27) and Peters third (1.04.37).

Jansson took a slice of lemon at a feed station and Zatopek noted this. He thought that as the Swede was running well, the lemon probably would help.

When the Czech came to the next feed station Zatopek would take two lemons.

Meanwhile Peters was fading fast, and at the turn for the last half of the marathon Zatopek grabbed the lead, without taking any lemons to suck.

Jansson faded as well and by the 35 kilometre point he was over a minute behind Zatopek. Peters had collapsed exhausted after 32 kilometres, so he was no longer a threat.

In the meantime, the Argentinian Reinaldo Gorno, improved his position to second behind Zatopek at the 40 km mark. The incredible strength and ability of Emil Zatopek was about to bring him the amazing troika of gold medals at the one Olympics; 5000 metres, 10,000 metres and the marathon.

The Helsinki Olympia stadium rang once last time with the chant 'Zat-o-pek! Zat-o-pek!' as their hero ran the last lap of the marathon.

The gap between gold and silver ended up to be over two and a half minutes, with Zatopek crossing the line in 2 hours 23 minutes and 3.2 seconds.

The Jamaican 4x100 metres relay team hoisted Zatopek on their shoulders, chairing him around as the ecstatic crowd gave him a standing ovation. Then as Gorno crossed the finishing line for his silver medal Zatopek came over to the Argentinian, greeting him with a slice of orange

After his victory Zatopek said:

"I was unable to walk for a whole week after that (the marathon), so much did the race take out of me. But it was the most pleasant exhaustion I have ever known."

The Prague Spring 1968

A hero in his native country, Zátopek was an influential figure in the Communist Party and a revered public figure in Czechoslovakia. He quit running as an athlete in 1957 but remained highly influencial.

All that changed in 1968 during the Prague Spring. Under reformist Alexander Dubcek, Czechslovakia tried to liberalize communism and introduce democratic reforms. Zatopek signed the "2000 Word Manifesto" which called for a break from the Soviet Union and encouraged reform.

When the Soviet tanks rolled into Prague to crush the reform movement on that fateful summer's day, Zatopek spoke out against the Soviet use of tanks to crush the democratic movement. When the reforms failed, Zatopek was a marked man. He was stripped of his Army rank, and expelled from the Communist Party. He was sent to work in a uranium mine for six years for political rehabilitation.

Between 1969 to 1982, Zatopek practically disappeared from the western world, and yet he always argued that it wasn't so bad. He learned a lot from his experience.

After his years in the uranium mine, Zatopek found a role at the Czechoslovak Physical Training Association in 1970, and later in the decade was associated with the Czech national sports institute.

During his final years Zatopek settled down with wife Dana - who won gold in the javelin at the 1952 Games - in a small town outside Prague.

Still the Olympian

Greatly loved by his competitors as well, the quality of Zatopek not just as an Olympian but as a man was shown not just by his victories in Helsinki, but also by the way he went about securing them. Finally, with one last generous act, Emil Zatopek soared further into the stratosphere of Olympic legends.

In the 1968, 10,000 metre world record holder Ron Clarke met with Zatopek after the Mexico City Olympics. On the point of leaving Prague after his visit, Clarke was walked through customs by Zatopek. Shaking hands in a final farewell, Zatopek passed a small package to the Australian, which Clarke took unopened onto his flight. Worried that he was carried some smuggled information from Zatopek (who signed the manifesto supporting the so-called "Prague Spring" of 1968), Clarke only opened his package when the flight was well outside Czechoslovakian airspace.

Inside was Zatopek's 10,000 metres gold medal from Helsinki. With this act of true sporting friendship, Emil Zatopek's words to Ron Clarke as he had got on the plane made sense to the Australian; "Because you deserved it".

The Velvet Revolution

In 1991, when Mikhail Gorbachev encouraged Eastern Europe to adopt Glasnost and Perestroika, sparking off a wave of nationalism and reforms in Czechoslovakia, tje Vevet Revolution took place (Czech: sametová revoluce, Slovak: nežná revolúcia) between November 16 – December 29, 1989. Riot police ried to supress a peaceful student demonstration in Prague which turned into huge popular demonstrations. With the USSR refusing to intervene, a non-violent revolution occured in Czechoslovakia. The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia announced that it would relinquish power and dismantle the single-party state. Barbed wire and other obstructions were removed from the border with West Germany and Austria (Alexander Dubček was elected speaker of the federal parliament and Václav Havel the new democratic President of Czechoslovakia on December 29, 1989)

The Velvet Revolution made the wheel turn a full circle. Zatopek could travel again - and enjoyed the affection heaped on him by athletics fans the world over. In 1999 he was voted as the greatest Olympic champion from the Czech Republic by a jury of experts and journalists from the country.

Zatopek's Death

In November 2000, legendary Czech athlete Emil Zatopek died after suffering with a mystery virus complicated by pneumonia and a weakened heart rate.

The four-times Olympic champion died in a Prague military hospital, aged 78.

Zatopek was hospitalised after a stroke on 30 October, 2000 and had been in a critical condition since.


"Essentially, we distinguish ourselves from the rest. If you want to win something, run the 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon."

"I was not talented enough to run and smile at the same time."

"It's at the borders of pain and suffering that the men are separated from the boys."

Upon winning: "But it was the finest exhaustion I've ever felt."

"His enthusiasm, his friendliness, his love of life, shone through every movement. There is not and never was a greater man than Emil Zatopek." - Ron Clarke

Olympics History - Nazi Germany, Japan, Saarland, China, Singapore

The Berlin Olympics

Seeing the pictures from the 1936 Berlin Olympic Opening Ceremony is sickening. With Hitler looking on, each nation's delegation marches into the stadium in perfect goosestep. Most of the teams raise their arm in the "Olympic salute," which looks supiciously similar to the Nazi salute. Countries that will go on to be decimated by the Third Reich march and cheer along with the crowds.

What's interesting to note about the 1936 games is that many of the traditions that are considering integral to the Olympics were started in Berlin. The torch relay, a massive opening ceremony and taping the whole spectacle were started by Hitler's regime.

Hitler even cajoled filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl to go to Delphi, carve the Olympic rings into a stone, and film it, so to convince people that the rings were an ancient drawing, not the creation of modern Olympic founder, Pierre de Coubertin

By allowing only members of the "Aryan" race to compete for Germany, Hitler further promoted his ideological belief of racial supremacy. At the same time, the party removed signs stating "Jews not wanted" and similar slogans from the city's main tourist attractions. In an attempt to "clean up" Berlin, the German Ministry of Interior authorized the chief of police to arrest all Romani (Gypsies) and keep them in a special camp .[2] Nazi officials ordered that foreign visitors should not be subjected to the criminal strictures of anti-homosexual laws.

Total ticket revenues were 7.5 million Reichsmarks, generating a profit of over one million marks. The official budget did not include outlays by the city of Berlin (which issued an itemized report detailing its costs of 16.5 million marks) or that of the German national government (which did not make its costs public, but is estimated to have spent US$30 million, chiefly in capital outlays

Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Germany (host nation) 33 26 30 89
2 United States 24 20 12 56
3 Hungary 10 1 5 16
4 Italy 8 9 5 22
5 Finland 7 6 6 19
6 France 7 6 6 19
7 Sweden 6 5 9 20
8 Japan 6 4 8 18
9 Netherlands 6 4 7 17
10 Great Britain 4 7 3 14

A total of 49 nations attended the Berlin Olympics, up from 37 in 1932. Six nations made their first official Olympic appearance at these Games: Afghanistan, Bermuda, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Liechtenstein, and Peru.

Clips of Berlin Olympics: -,99210

USSR in the Olympics

(Water Polo Team)

The Soviet Union only first participated at the Olympic Games only in 1952 in Helsinki Finland. They were the second best nation on the medal tally. The USA was first.

Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 United States 40 19 17 76
2 Soviet Union 22 30 19 71
3 Hungary 16 10 16 42

China in the Olympics

China first participated at the Olympic Games in 1932 in Los Angeles USA. The Republic of China (ROC) would participate in 1948. In 1948, the 52-member delegation from ROC consisted of 33 contenders for track and field, swimming, football, basketball, as well as cycling events. The results were disappointing, as all were eliminated in the preliminary contests.

In 1952, the Republic of China (Chinese Taipei/Taiwan), listed as "China (Formosa)", withdrew from the Games on July 20, in protest of the allowing of the People's Republic of China's men and women to compete.

For the PRC, the men's football and basketball teams and one swimmer joined the Olympics. A total of 40 athletes and officials took part. The football and basketball teams arrived too late to take part in the competition, only the swimmer took part. He was Wu Chuanyu, Men's 100m Backstroke — 1:12.3 (Heat five)

(Wu Chuanyu at the 4th World Juniors and Students Friendship Game held in Bucharest, Romania. He won the gold medal in the 100 meter backstroke swimming event. It was the first time that the Chinese national flag rose in international sports arena)

World War Two and the Olympics

In 1940, the summer Olympics were scheduled for Tokyo, Japan, but were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II. In 1937, Tokyo was stripped of its host status for the Games by the IOC due to the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the Games were then awarded to Helsinki, Finland, the runner-up in the bidding. The Games were then scheduled to be staged from July 20 to August 4, 1940. The Olympic Games were suspended indefinitely followed the outbreak of the war, and did not resume until the London Games of 1948.

Germany and Japan were not invited to the 1948 London Olympics. Germany was also banned from the 1920 Antwerp Olympics and 1924 Paris Olympics.

In the 1920 Olympics, Germany was blamed for the start of World War I. Germany, together with other Central Powers allies - Austria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary. These nations, which by now had new governments, were banned from the 1920 Summer Olympics.

While all other banned nations were invited again for the 1924 Summer Olympics, held for the second time in Pierre de Coubertin's home town of Paris, the ban on Germany was not lifted until 1925. This was likely related to French Occupation of the Ruhr and the Rhineland between 1923 and 1925.

Singapore in the Olympics

Singapore competed in the Summer Olympic Games for the first time at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, England, as a British Crown Colony.

The following Singaporean athletes participated in the games:

Association Football - Chia Boon Leong and Chu Chee Seng
Athletics - Ng Liang Chiang and Valberg Lloyd, Highjump (finished 14th place)
Basketball - Chua Boon Lay

Cold War - Divided Germany in the Olympics

After World War Two, there were three German states found in Germany. There were athletes from the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, West Germany, the German Democratic Republic (GDR, East Germany) and the Saarland (A French protectorate)

Before 1956, it was decided that German athletes from West Germany and the French-occupied Saarland would took part in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics separately

The Saarland joined the Federal Republic after 1955, while the East German authorities, which had not taken part in the 1952 Games, agreed in 1956 to let their athletes compete in a united team that used the black-red-gold tricolour, but with additional Olympic rings in white placed upon the red middle stripe, as East German politicians were eager not to compete under the traditional German flag used both by West Germany and even themselves.

They competed together as the United Team of Germany (EUA for French: Équipe unifiée d'Allemagne, German: Gesamtdeutsche Mannschaft) in the 1956 Melbourne, 1960 Rome, and 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

After 1961, despite initially calling for a "united Germany" in the East German anthem, the socialist East German government intensified its separation in Germany, with the building of the Berlin Wall in August 1961, obstructing travel within Germany even more. The travel of GDR athletes for contests and training sites in the Alps was limited.

As a result of this development, Aahletes from the Soviet-occupied German Democratic Republic (GDR) appeared in a separate team after the United Team effort was discontinued. In five Games, from 1968 Mexico Olympics to 1980 Moscow Olympics and again in 1988 Seoul Olympics, the GDR participated as a separate team.

The separation was completed at the 1972 Munich Olympics, when the two countries used separate flags and anthems. This continued until the German Reunification of 1990 caused East Germany to cease to exist.

Germany in the 1952 Helsinki Games

In the 1952 Helsinki Games, only athletes from West Germany and the Saarland took part. West Germany or the Federal Republic of Germany (GER) claimed exclusive mandate to represent the entire country. Athletes from the Saarland (SAA) competed as a separate team, as the French-occupied state would not join the Federal Republic of Germany until 1955.

Saarland was founded in spring of 1950 in the Saar protectorate which existed from 1947 to 1956 in the Saarland, a region of Western Germany that was (again) occupied in 1945 by France. As a separate team, they only took part in the 1952 Summer Olympics, participating in boxing and canoeing, before being allowed to rejoin the German team for the summer games of 1956. Following a referendum in October 1955 that rejected the Saar statute proposing independence as European territory, thus voting indirectly in favor of access to the Federal Republic of Germany, the Saar treaty of October 1956 allowed the Saarland to rejoin Germany with effect of 1 January 1957.

China in the Olympics

People are curious to know when China first took part in the Olympics.

Some say it was at the very first Olympic Games in 1896, or during the latter part of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), when the country was ruled by dowager Cixi (1835-1906).

Upon receiving an invitation from the International Olympic Committee, nobody at her court knew what was meant by "Olympics." When she was eventually told that it was a sports meet including running events, she burst out laughing and said, "Well, we may send some of our eunuchs who are running the court so well. They are good runners."

Perhaps this might be a mere idle tale about the unpopular dowager. It remains a riddle whether the Qing court received a letter of invitation from the IOC at all.

In order to find an answer to this problem, Mr. Lu Enchun, a coach of the Chinese gymnastics team, once went to the Imperial Palace in Beijing to look into the Qing archives. But he was completely at sea among the piles of documents.

Similar effort was made by some China Olympic Committee officials from a different angle in 1995 when they visited the international Olympic Museum in Lausanne. The only answer they got from the keeper was that not every country was invited to the first Olympics.

According to a relevant document available, it's more probable than not that China was NOT invited to the first Olympic Games. That's a book entitled "Li Hongzhang's Missions to Europe and America." Li was Prime Minister of the Qing government and paid a visit to Europe in 1896. He was informed by the French Foreign Minister that the first Olympics were to be held in Europe, and it was hoped that Li would be able to come to France again. But nothing was mentioned about China being invited to the Olympic Games.

So when was China invited for the first time to the Olympics? According to historical records, Chinese diplomat Wang Zhengting was elected into the IOC in 1922. It was then that the sports organization in China was formally recognized by the IOC. And it is stipulated in the Olympic Charter that only an organization recognized by the IOC may enter competitors in the Olympic Games. It was not until 1932 when the 10th Olympic Games were held in Los Angeles that China was invited for the first time to send athletes for competition.

Four years before this, however, when the 9th Olympics were scheduled to be held in Amsterdam in 1928, China had been invited to send an observer to attend the opening ceremony through a diplomat named Song Ruhai. In addition, an overseas Chinese He Haohua registered in a cycling race on behalf of his motherland. Unfortunately, he was injured and hospitalized. Anyhow, he was the first Chinese Olympian.

In his Chinese History of Sports over the Past Century, Prof. Wu Wenzhong confirms that China was first represented by Song Ruhai at the Olympic Games in 1928- entirely in the capacity of an observer. About this Song has written in his book, " The World Games".

In spite of the presence of a Chinese official and a voluntary competitor at the 9th Olympics, no delegation worthy of the name had ever been sent by China to the Olympics until 1932. Even then, the Chinese government had no real intention to take part in the 10th Olympic Games. It happened that the Japanese invaders had occupied northeastern China and concocted the bogus Manchukuo. A plot was afoot to send a promising athlete, Liu Changchun, to the 1932 Olympics in the name of the puppet regime in order to make it accepted as a fait accompli. But the patriotic-minded athlete made a statement in the newspaper "L' Impartial", refusing to represent the so-called Manchuguo at the Olympics.

Meanwhile, the well-known patriotic General Zhang Xueliang exposed the Japanese aggressors' scheme and declared that he would sponsor Liu Changchun to the Olympics representing China. He announced at a graduation ceremony of Northeastern University that Liu and his coach Song Junfu would participate in the 10th Olympic Games on behalf of China.

General Zhang, who passed away in Honolulu, USA on October 15, 2001, has been held in high esteem by the Chinese people not only as a great patriot, but also as the supporter of the first group of Chinese to take part in the Olympics. Although eliminated in the preliminary heats in the 100m and 200m sprints clocking 11.1 and 22.1 respectively, Liu has pioneered the way for China's participation in the Olympics - a way full of twists and turns at the time and henceforward.