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MELBOURNE (1956)

Aug 09, 2004 10:26 PM IST

The Soviet Union arrived in force for the first Olympics staged south of the equator, with the exception of the equestrian events which were held in Stockholm.

The Soviet Union arrived in force for the first Olympics staged south of the equator, with the exception of the equestrian events which were held in Stockholm because of Australia's strict quarantine rules.

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Vladimir Kuts, a sailor from Ukraine, ground out remorseless victories in the 5,000 and 10,000 metres, two of the 37 gold medals garnered by the Soviet Union who won 98 medals in all compared to the United States's 74.

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A Cold War battle was fought in the swimming pool, an extension of the bloodshed in Budapest when Soviet tanks crushed a brief Hungarian uprising.

Blood was spilt during the water polo semi-final between Hungary and the Soviet Union as the players punched each other above the water and kicked out below. Hungary eventually won 4-0 and went on to take the gold medal.

Australia flourished in the pool, winning eight golds, four silvers and two bronzes while 18-year-old Betty Cuthbert completed a 100-200 double on the track for the host nation.

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