When Tokyo was preparing for the 1964 Olympics

Japan had won 18 medals at the previous Olympics. For 1964, it was aiming to claim 57 of them. But Canadian athletes were also getting ready for the Games.

Canadian athletes were starting to get ready, too

A year to go for Tokyo '64

4 days ago
In July 1963, CBC's Telescope visits Tokyo and meets some Canadian athletes who will be competing at the Olympics there in 1964.. 3:17

After a postponement of a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Olympic Games are about to start in in Tokyo despite being "plagued by infections among athletes, hotel workers, and others involved with the event," according to CBC News.

It's not the first time Tokyo has hosted the Games.

In 1963, with more than a year to go, the CBC-TV current affairs program Telescope already had its eye on the Olympics. The program took viewers to Tokyo to see the city's efforts at building the roads and hotels necessary to supporting the global sporting event. 

As host country, Japan was also determined to triple its medal count.

Japan had a plan

"Nightspots are fitted out as gymnasiums," said host Fletcher Markle, as gymnasts were seen at practice. "Day and night, everyone with a chance to be in the Olympics is in training."

As a high jumper was seen launching over a bar and sprinters raced, Markle said Japan was spending $6 million to train its athletes.

"They won 18 medals in 1960. They want 57 in 1964," he said.

According to the official Olympics website, Japan's medal count in 1964 was 29. Canada's was four.

One of the winning Canadians was sprinter Harry Jerome, who took bronze in the 100-metre event in the 1964 Games. He would go on to win gold at the 1967 Pan Am Games.

The athletes' view

Nancy McCredie's experience as an athlete

Digital Archives

4 days ago
Ahead of the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, the shotputter from Brampton, Ont. praises the friendships among athletes at international events. 1:20

Jerome was just one of 118 Canadians who participated in the 1964 Games, according to the website of the Canadian Olympic Committee.

Another was Bruce Kidd, a distance runner who, according to the website, was "a sensation on the North American track scene." Markle and his crew caught up with Kidd and some other Canadian athletes at Toronto's Varsity Stadium in the summer of 1963.

The Telescope crew asked Kidd about whether sport built character.

"I think, myself, it has been a character builder for me," Kidd said. "Track and field forces one to go out on one's own... one thinks that all exertions, all endeavours in sport is a good thing."

For Nancy McCredie, who had competed in shot put and discus at the 1963 Pan Am Games, the camaraderie among athletes from all countries was one of the best things about international competition.

"When you're competing against other countries, it's friendship," she said. "When you're in competition they're just like your brothers and sisters... we're just there to have fun and do our best."

McCredie also drew energy from the spectators.

"'Get your energy from the crowd. Don't be afraid of them,'" she said her coach had instructed her. "And I did... I just felt like throwing it a mile."

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