It’s not as early as all that – by 1908, the Olympic Games were fully formed and today’s games will differ only through the sheer number of sports involved and the improved drug testing regimes we now enjoy.
The 1912 100m, not that you can really tell what’s going on:
And the 200m. A little better:
War intervenes. One more way in which it conspired to ruin an otherwise promising century of athletics: we return for the 1920 100m:
You’ll remember Charlie Paddock from “Chariots of Fire”.
Here’s the first of those Chariot races – Harold Abrahams winning the 1924 100m in Paris. He went to my school, y’know:
But I’m really an Eric Liddell man at heart. The 1924 Olympic 400m final, of course:
And here he is winning the same race in the shape of a costumed proxy sixty years later:
Watching old film of football, of athletics, of motor racing, I can’t help but think that only motor racing was successfully captured until the moving picture was comparatively mature. Perhaps Grand Prix is best seen through one camera, at ground level, through a spectator’s eyes, which was all the camera could really offer until the 1950s? Because it’s all changed now, and I find modern Formula One dull to watch, football and athletics almost unmissable. F1 is filmed at a distance, slowing the cars, dulling the noise, hiding the drama which I’m told is still there on the ground.