BBC Sport's team take a quirky look at the events of 1908
As preparations for the London 2012 Olympics gather pace, 27 April marks the centenary of the start of the first Games to be held in the British capital.
BBC Sport looks back at the 1908 Olympiad, its highlights and heroes, as well as its quirks and controversies.
THREE CHEERS FOR BRITAIN
The 1908 Games were due to be held in Rome, but the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1906 left Italy needing to divert resources into disaster relief and rebuilding.
With time running out, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) asked Britain to step in as host. That gave London less than two years to prepare.
But with Lord Desborough, the British Olympic Association's dynamic chairman, to the fore, and the support of King Edward VII, the challenge was accepted.
The Olympic Stadium was ready in good time for the Games
A Franco-Britannic Exhibition was to be held in west London in 1908, and the canny Desborough did the kind of deal which would leave London 2012 boss Lord Coe still in his blocks.
In return for a share of gate receipts, the exhibition organisers agreed to fund and build a 66,000-capacity stadium next to their site, and even donated £2,000 towards its running costs.
So hats off, gentlemen, to Lord Desborough, the first hero of the 1908 London Games.
DID YOU KNOW? The White City area of west London takes its name from the marble cladding used on the exhibition pavilions.
POLITICS, BIAS AND FAIR PLAY
Politics reared its head at the 1908 Games when the US team declined to dip the Stars and Stripes when passing the King at the opening ceremony.
As competition began, the Americans were soon lodging allegations of biased judging and bemoaning the fact that events were staged using British rules.
Halswelle's win is still the only walkover gold in Olympic history
The latter led to the IOC ensuring in subsequent Olympics that standard international rules were applied to avoid similar disputes.
One of the biggest came when American John Carpenter won a four-man 400m final but was disqualified for impeding Britain's Wyndham Halswelle.
A re-run was ordered but the three Americans refused to take part, so Halswelle ran unopposed to take gold.
As a result, the 400m at the 1912 Games in Stockholm was run in lanes. The International Amateur Athletics Federation was founded in the same year, in part to harmonise the variety of rules that had developed around the world.
DID YOU KNOW? Capt Wyndham Halswelle was killed by a sniper at the Battle of Nueve Chapelle during the First World War.
THE 1908 GAMES - LONG, QUIRKY AND WET
This year's Summer Games in Beijing will be done and dusted in a little over two weeks, but the 1908 Olympics were the longest ever, running from the end of April until late October.
That allowed plenty of time for some idiosyncratic inclusions in the programme of events, including - for the first and only time - tug of war.
The competition was dominated by the long arm of the law, with British police teams taking gold, silver and bronze.
The Liverpool St Police tug-of-war team take the strain in 1908
Powerboating was another sport which made its sole Olympic appearance in 1908, with three races held in choppy conditions in Solent. Britain took two golds, and France the other.
Conditions were decidedly chilly at the Prince's Skating Club in Knightsbridge, where Olympic ice skating took place in April.
In the days before separate Winter Olympics were staged, Britain won six medals, although two of the four events only had three entrants.
Britain also enjoyed swimming success, but won no plaudits as the water in the 100m open-air pool in the middle of the Olympic Stadium turned distinctly swampy as the Games progressed.
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