When Luxembourg Won Gold At the 1952 Olympics, They Had To Make Up Their National Anthem


While we’ve learned that national anthems can be a source of controversy, none was more controversial than that of Luxembourg at the 1952 Olympics. When Josy Barthel won the men’s 1,500-meter race in Helsinki — beating Bob McMillen of the United States and Werner Lueg of Germany — he wept atop the podium as the Olympic band improvised his country’s national anthem. A gold medal win was so unexpected that the band didn’t know the country’s national anthem and had to improvise by playing gibberish. Unfortunately, it would be the one and only time the Luxembourg national anthem was to be played. The country has never had another gold medal winner. Perhaps the next time they do win gold, the winner will actually be able to give the music to the band.