Thursday Think(+) Positive: Everything You Need to Know About the Olympics Through History|
It’s here. Four years have zipped by since Bejing (aka the Summer of Michael Phelps) and the London games are upon us. You don’t have to be a Brit or a sports fan to be excited about those five interlocking rings all over TV. Olympians always generate stories of triumph that brings tears to our eyes, heartbreak that makes James Patterson look happy, and inspiring lessons in strength and determination. The Olympics transcend sports.
In a colored history as old as Ancient Greece, the Olympic games have brought us stories and tidbits that are both wildly entertaining and almost completely forgotten. When you’re hanging on the couch, or at a bar, try throwing a few of these uncommonly known Olympic factoids out and I can promise you’ll impress somebody, somewhere, over the course of the next two weeks. (As if you don’t do that already by just being you.)
Let the “Uncommon” Games Begin, Shall we?
- DUI: Diving (swimming) under the Influence: Aussie swimmer Dawn Fraser, who won freestyle golds at three consecutive games, was given a 10-year ban in 1964 after drunkenly swimming a moat to steal an Olympic flag from outside Emperor Hirohito’s palace. She was named Australian of the year. Insert our applause here.
- Muhammad Ali, aka Scaredy Pants Magee: Cassius Clay – later Muhammad Ali – was so nervous about flying to Rome for the 1960 games that he bought a parachute from an army surplus store and wore it throughout the flight, often getting up to pray in the aisle. Poor thing just needed a Xanax.
- Say Cheese: Today’s athletes follow a strict nutritional plan and watch what they eat, but before the Olympics in ancient Greece athletes mostly ate cheese. Join me in a universal “HUH?”.
- The Spaniard Virtue: Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium was built in 1927 as part of the bidding process for the 1936 Games, which were awarded to Munich, and had to wait 65 years before it eventually hosted the Games. Putting the cart before the horse much?
- Olympic Crappers: The 2,818 apartments in the Olympic Village come complete with 5,000 toilet brushes. No commentary needed.
- The Good Disappear young?: A 12-year-old French boy who coxed for a Dutch pair at the 1900 Games is the youngest Olympic champion ever. Shortly after the victory ceremony, he disappeared, his identity unknown
- Hand Over the Vicodin: Male Gymnast Shun Fujimoto competed in Montreal in 1976 despite having a broken kneecap; his effort helped the Japanese team win gold. Thank goodness it was worth it.
- Down a limb: George Eyser won six medals, three golds, two silvers and a bronze, during a single day of the 1904 Olympics, despite having a wooden left leg. He lost his real one when it was run over by a train.
- Petition to bring this back? Contestants at the Ancient Games at Olympia competed in the nude. I can see Lochte pioneering this effort.
- There is no 10: The top score was eliminated in 2006, replaced by open-ended scoring to reward more difficult, skills-packed gymnastic routines.
Thanks to Time and SportsGrid for these need-to-know gems!