London 1948

London is the first city ever to host the Olympics three times; 1908, 1948, and now 2012. Our collective Olympics memories tend not to go much further back than the '70s -- with the exception of Jesse Owens and Berlin 1936 -- but there are a handful of medalists from 1948 that are still with us today as the Olympics return to the site of their past triumphs. I just stumbled across an amazing story on TIME LightBox about those games and some of the surviving medalists.

Maybe it's because of my American naivete, but I generally don't think of the massive fallout of World War II. It obviously changed the world forever, but because it took place half a world away, we didn't have to deal with any of the physical destruction of our cities. And it actually helped us get out of the Great Depression. In Europe, however, cities were destroyed and economies were completely shot. London was a completely different world back then; no new venues were built, courses were too short, competitions were held in the dark without stadium lighting, and the athletes' village was converted from an army convalescent camp.

Insane, especially when you think about how the budget for the 2012 Opening Ceremony -- just the single ceremony! -- is over 80 million pounds.

The story accompanied a slideshow of recent photos of the medalists, which I think are really poignant.

Michael Clement LaPage, British rower and silver medalist. 88 years old.

Thomas Godwin, British cyclist and double bronze medalist. 91 years old.

Dr. Samuel Lee, American platform diver and back-to-back gold medalist. 91 years old.

David Bond, British sailor and gold medalist. 90 years old.

I'd definitely recommend heading over there, reading the story and checking out the rest of the photos. There are some really great little anecdotes from the athletes, and it makes you wonder whose portraits we're going to be getting sentimental over in 64 years.


  1. So cool! Also, I should mention that when I saw the thumbnail of this on Facebook, I was positive one of these guys was Michael Caine.