When looking for a sporting tournament in history filled with political tension yet leveled by its international unity - look no further than the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
Antanas Mikėnas pictured in action.

In what would be the first tournament of its kind held in the Southern Hemisphere, the Soviet Union would march to the top of the medal table claiming 98 (21% of the podium spots).

However, a common mistake by Western athletes and supporters at the time was that all athletes representing the USSR were of Russian origin.

An example of which took place on this day in sport when Lithuanian athlete Antanas Mikėnas was rewarded with a silver medal in the inaugural Men’s 20km walk.

The Butkiškiai born 32-year-old crossed over the finish line with a time of 1:32:03.0 before tens of thousands at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground).

The overall winner, Leonid Spirin (USSR), broke out to record the win less than half a minute earlier before greeting Mikėnas with a congratulatory kiss on the cheek.

Estonian Bruno Junk, 27, then claimed the Bronze medal nine seconds later; resulting in an all Soviet podium made up of three different nationalities.

Antanas Mikėnas reaches the finish line.
Antanas Mikėnas reaches the finish line.

Approximately 10,000 Lithuanians had immigrated to Australia in the decade prior therefore this milestone had sentimental value as the race ran through Melbourne’s North Western suburbs (populated by many Lithuanians at the time).

Though this was Mikėnas’ only Olympic medal he was already considered royalty amongst Lithuania’s athletics community; documented in a television series by his relatives and admirers.

Mikėnas, who passed away in 1994, was honoured by the Lithuania’s Sports Museum earlier this year.

See story.

Leave a comment
or for anonymous commenting click here
By posting, you agree to terms
Read comments Read comments

Greg Monroe on the brawl with Jonas Valančiūnas: I would much rather play with a tough guy like Jonas than some timid player

The Toronto Raptors are getting ready for the upcoming basketball season this year by putting together...

Seibutis has been dragged into the NBA trade merry-go-round for a second time; the rights to the Lithuanian now belong to the Cleveland “Cavaliers”

The name of 33-year old Lithuanian guard, Renaldas Seibutis has been brought in for a second time in...

BC Rytas reveals new logo, featuring Vilnius symbols

The Vilnius-based BC Rytas , which changed its name earlier this summer, on Monday revealed a new...

An in-depth analysis of Lithuania’s national basketball team after the third window games! (2)

About 6 minutes into Lithuania’s first game versus Poland on June 28th, I was thinking to myself...

Šaras says he’s staying because he is at home here in LT

Šarūnas Jasikevičius is staying in Kaunas for at least another year. This is perhaps the most...