Part Two of the official film of the Helsinki Olympics, Gold and Glory, covers seventeen sports other than athletics. Only fencing, shooting and water polo are missing. We are shown tourists arriving and staying in campgrounds. We are told that autograph seekers among the local citizens had a field day with athletes from so many nations, and that dark-skinned athletes were particularly popular. Female athletes were housed at a nursing school.
Sports coverage begins with six different boxing finals. African-Americans win half of the divisions. When 17-year-old middleweight Floyd Patterson knocks out Vasile Tiţă of Romania in the first round, we don’t see the punch, but we certainly see the effect. Norvel Lee, winner of the light-heavyweight division, is praised as stylish and “gentlemanly.” In general, the combatants are portrayed as friendly adversaries rather than as enemies.
Sweden’s Ingemar Johansson is heavily criticized after being disqualified for passivity in the final, and we are shown the empty silver medal platform during the medal ceremony. Little could one have known that, seven years later, Johansson would become a national hero when he knocked out Floyd Patterson to become the professional world champion.
For the first time in an Olympic film, we see coverage of wrestling matches and basketball. Without going into details, the narrator notes that in the basketball final between the United States and the Soviet Union, trouble developed, and police and security forces had to “intervene.” These were the first Games in which Soviet athletes took part. Despite the basketball incident, the film emphasizes that, despite the Cold War, athletes from the East and West got along well.
Footage of the women’s team portable apparatus gymnastics event, which was officially part of the 1952 and 1956 Olympics, demonstrates that it was a clear precursor to team rhythmic gymnastics, which was not added to the Olympic program until 1996.
The football final shows a goal made by Hungary’s Ferenc Puskás, whom the narrator tells us is already a standout player. He was 26 years old at the time of the Helsinki Olympics. In 2009, FIFA inaugurated the Puskás Award for the “most beautiful” goal of the year. At the medal ceremony, the olive branches are presented by Finland’s 17-year-old Armi Kuusela, who, just a month earlier, had been crowned the winner of the first Miss Universe contest.
Coverage of the 50-kilometer walk is highlighted by Giuseppe Dordoni of Italy combing his hair as he walks, before entering the stadium as the winner.
As the 1,500-meter swimming event proceeds, the narrator notes that all three medalists are Japanese, although they compete for different countries: gold to Ford Konno of the United States, silver to Shiro Hashizume of Japan and bronze to Tetsuo Okamoto of Brazil. The narrator also points out that although Konno competed for the US, he was really from Hawaii (which did not become part of the United States until seven years later). Of course, Hawaiians had been competing as Americans since the days of Duke Kahanamoku in 1912.
This being a Finnish film, there is extensive coverage of the kayaking events, of which four of the five were won by athletes from Finland. Sylvi Saimo, winner of the only women’s event, is honored as the first female Olympic champion from Finland. It would be another 44 years before another Finnish woman earned an Olympic gold medal in any sport.