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Friday fun facts - the Olympics

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by knumbskull, May 20, 2011.

  1. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007

    At work, I've recently been doing some research into the summer Olympics, and I thought I'd share some of the strange facts and stories that I discovered.

    (these are no doubt well-known to Olympo-philes, but they entertained me! Wikipedia helped, too...)

    Paris 1900 - the only ever Olympic cricket match, between France and England.

    St Louis 1904 - the marathon sounds a bit like the Wacky Races:
    Original "winner" Fred Lorz is found to have driven much of the race in a car. He is disqualified.
    Thomas Hicks needs serious medical aid after drinking brandy on top of taking strychnine(!) to help his performance.
    Cuban postman Felix Carvajal competes, who had lost all his travel money on the way by gambling in New Orleans, hitchhiked to the games and, as he had no other clothes, held up the race start while he cut off his uniform into shorts. He also stopped mid-race to eat apples and have a snooze - he finishes fourth.
    The marathon also features the Games's first black competitors (tribesmen from South Africa), who were actually only there as part of a World's Fair sideshow, and who would have finished in a higher position if they hadn't been chased 1 mile off course by (presumably racist) dogs.

    Also at St Louis, US gymnast George Eyser wins 6 golds. He has a wooden leg.

    Paris 1924 - Italian and Hungarian fencers get into an argument, which escalates into an actual sword duel (to first blood, rather than to the death...)

    Amsterdam 1928 - Australian rower Henry Pearce stops mid-race to allow a family of ducks to pass. He still wins gold.

    LA 1932 - British fencer Judy Guinness gives up gold by pointing out to judges that they'd failed to spot 2 hits by her opponent.

    Helsinki 1952 - back in 1924, Bill Havens of the US rowing team had decided to miss the Games and stay home with his wife who was about to give birth. She gave birth to a boy and he - Frank Havens - went on to win gold in the 1952 canoeing event.

    Also in 1952, Karoly Takacs of Hungary wins gold in the 25m rapid fire pistol, shooting left-handed. He had previous been a right handed shooter, but had lost his right hand to faulty grenade during his military training. Go Karoly!

    Mexico City 1968 - in an early - and rather lame - doping scandal, Swedish pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall is disqualified for having "two beers" before the shooting event. Boo! Although good to know the Olympic committee views beer as a performance-enhancing drug.

    Montreal 1976 - Princess Anne competes in the equestrian event and is the only athlete not to have to undergo a gender test. The royal parts remain uninspected.

    Athens 2004 - Brazilian marathon runner Vanderlei de Lima is tackled and floored during the race by an Irish priest - as a result he drops from 1st to 3rd. The priest, who seems to have mental problems and had previously run out onto a Formula One course, was later defrocked. He is banned from a number of major sporting events, unsurprisingly.

    Any other good Olympic stories that you know of? Any fans of the Olympics on TB? ...any closet bassplaying Olympians?? ;)
  2. cdef


    Jul 18, 2003
    Stockholm 1912 - slowest ever marathon performance, by Japanese runner Shizo Kanakuri. He collapsed during the race and was found unconscious by a farming family. They took him in and nursed him for a while, and after recovering he returned to Japan without completing the race and without notifying officials. For 50 years Swedish authorities considered him missing, until discovering that he was living in Japan and had indeed competed in the Olympic marathons of 1920 and 1924. In 1966 he was contacted by Swedish television and offered to complete the race. He accepted and arrived in Sweden, where he resumed his run and finally crossed the line after 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 8 hours, 32 minutes and 20.3 seconds.
  3. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    thanks, that is brilliant :D

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