The 1956 Olympics took place in November and December, but they were nevertheless listed as "summer". They were held in hot Australia, leading to a sizeable drop in the number of participants.
Time and Place: Melbourne (Australia); 22 November – 8 December 1956
Other candidates: Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Detroit, Mexico, Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and San Francisco
Participation: 72 countries, 3314 athletes
Number of sports: 17 sports, 145 events
Number of Slovenian athletes: 3
Fire lit by: Ron Clarke (track and field)
Games opened by: Prince Phillip
Olyimpic oath: John Landy (track and field)
Trivia from the Melbourne 1956 Summer Olympic Games
The Australian Games were special in many respects. They were the first Olympics to be held south of the equator... at least for the most part. The equestrian competition was carried out in Stockholm, Sweden, as the requests for a reduction of the six month quarantine for horses were rejected by the Australian government.
Reflections of political tensions in sports intensified further in Melbourne, forecasting even worse times to come. The games were boycotted by the Chinese who complained over the participation of Taiwanese athletes, the Dutch and Spanish boycott was a protest against the Soviet occupation of Hungary and the Egyptians and Lebanese also boycotted the games. Conflicts happened even at the Games themselves. The water polo match between Hungary and the Soviet Union had to be stopped due to fighting among the athletes.
Olympic fairytales were nevertheless written by Australian track and field star Betty Cuthbert, who won three Olympic titles, four gold titles winner Larisa Latinina (gymnastics) of the Soviet Union, Hungarian gymnast Agnes Keleti, USA track and field athlete Bobby Morrow, Australian swimmer Murray Rose, Soviet runner Vladimir Kec, …
Overall, the most successful country was the Soviet Union (37 gold medals, 29 silver medals and 32 bronzes), scoring another win in the eternal rivalry with the USA which won 32 gold medals, 25 silver ones and 17 bronzes. The other nations came far behind the two superpowers.
Slovenians and the 1956 Summer Olympics
Three athletes from Slovenia took part in the Australian Olympics. Runner Stanko Lorger from Celje achieved fifth place in the 110 meter hurdles with the Americans winning the top three places. His fifth place was considered the Best Slovenian track and field result at the Olympics for a long time. Female shot put competitors Milena Usenik and Nada Kotlušek also did good in the competition. While Soviet Tamara Tyskevitch won the gold, Kotlušek achieved a respectable eighth place with Usenik coming in as ninth.