Rome had been chosen as the location for the 1908 Games, but the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 1906 had averted public funding to cover the damage to the city of Naples caused by the Volcano – the Games were moved to London instead.
German Athlete Armin Hary set an Olympic Record time of 10.2 in the 100m, switching to PUMA from adidas just before the race. Adidas could claim success with Wilma Rudolph ‘The Black Gazelle’ who took three golds in track events. A young Muhammad Ali took gold in the boxing and would later sign for adidas and become one of the brands most celebrated athletes. The USSR once again topped the medal charts with 103 Medals [43 Gold].
Adidas at the Olympics
Horst was again charged with promoting the brand at the event and could boast that 75% of the competing athletes wore adidas, winning 31 Gold, 29 Silver and 26 Bronze Medals. However, PUMA had latched onto adidas’ tactics and pushed their shoes at the Olympic village. Armin Hary famously accepted a hidden cash payment (forbidden under IOC rules) to swap from adidas to PUMA in his victory, thereby setting a precedent for future athletes and events.
In 1960 Armin Hary (at the time still running for adidas) set a World Record of 10.0 seconds in Zürich wearing the shoe called ’10.0’. Adi secretly developed a new sprint shoe for Rome called the ‘9,9’. Made of kangaroo leather and lighter than ever [less than 5 oz], with improved cushioning, form fitting and with wider spikes. The shoe was an instant hit (even without Armin’s help) and was still being used by top athletes at the next Games.
The ‘Rom’ (together with its sister shoe the ‘Italia’) was the standard adidas training model for the 1964 games, handed out to athletes in the Olympic village. It could be used for all purpose training and leisure but was also suited to indoor sports. The original was made of white elk leather with blue stripes and with a porocrepe sole. The shoe would be one of the brands most popular for decades, going through several updates of the sole unit. With thanks again the archive team for this picture of the original version.