The Great Depression provided the backdrop as the Games returned to the United States for the first time since the unbalanced activities of St Louis 1904.
1932 Games posterThe number of competing nations held up quite strongly but with lack of funds and great distances to travel, they sent smaller teams. The total of participants dropped well below 2,000, whereas in Amsterdam it had exceeded 3,000.
Whether or not the economics around the Games dictated the format is not clear, but for the first time outside Athens the schedule was compact rather than spread out over months on end. In that sense, Los Angeles provided the model for the future.
Controversy erupted before the Games with the IOC's decision to ban Paavo Nurmi. The holder of nine gold medals and three silvers had his sights set on signing off with gold in the marathon, but the International Olympic Committee ruled he had received excessive expenses for competing in a track event in Germany, and although he travelled to Los Angeles he was not allowed to run.
Rather greater flexibility was demonstrated to the French team, who in the prohibition era were reportedly allowed to take wine into the United States for their own consumption.
1932 was the first time an Olympic Village had been usedNew nations included Colombia and China. Among the innovations were the use of photo-finish equipment for track events, the introduction of a three-tiered victory podium for medal presentations and, in boxing, the decision to have the referee officiate from inside the ring.
And for the first time the stadium scoreboard displayed the Olympic creed: "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."
The opening ceremony at the Los Angeles Memorial ColiseumMaybe Helene Madison just didn't read it. The American swimmer took gold in each of her three events. Italian gymnast Romeo Neri won three out of his four.
The individual star of the Games was Mildred Didrikson, although her fame has as much to do with her prior and subsequent achievements. Known as Babe, Didrikson won medals in three events, but that was all she was allowed to enter. The 21-year-old Texan won gold in the 80m hurdles and the javelin, collecting silver for the high jump. Had she been permitted, Didrikson would have been among the favourites in the discus, relay and long jump. Her other strong events — basketball and the 200m — did not feature on the schedule. Neither did golf, in which as Babe Zaharias she became one of the top women players in the world.
Eleanor Holm after winning the 100m backstroke for the USAThe Americans finished well ahead of their guests in the medals table — but not when it came to swimming. Having dominated in the pool throughout the 1920s they found themselves overhauled by the Japanese, whose haul of five golds, five silvers and two bronze included a remarkable performance in the men's 4x200m freestyle relay, improving the world record by more than 30 seconds.
Ireland's Patrick O'Callaghan wins hammer goldAgainst the odds, Los Angeles delivered a Games that was considered a sporting and financial success. But money was the least of the worries as the show moved to Berlin.
Top three performances
1- Babe Didrikson (USA) - won gold in the 80m hurdles and javelin, and silver in the high jump. Showing amazing versatility, she went on to become a highly successful golfer.
2- Helen Madison (USA) - Won three swimming golds - the 100m freestyle, 400m freestyle and 4x100m freestyle relay.
3- Romeo Neri (ITA) - Won three gymnastics golds from four events.
Did you know?
-An Olympic village was used to house athletes for the first time.
-The IOC caused uproar by banning Paavo Nurmi after ruling he had excessive expenses for an event in Germany.
-Despite prohibition, the French team were allowed to bring wine with them for their own consumption.