Olympics
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A major cover up

1996 Atlanta

Sports officials were in a fluster about bikinis being adopted as the official uniform of the beach volleyball team in 1994, and were worn at Atlanta for the first time. Not surprisingly at the next Games, beach volleyball in bikinis on Bondi Beach was the fifth most watched sport on TV at the Sydney Olympics.

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Swim like a fish

2000 Sydney

Eric ‘The Eel’ Moussambani, a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea, became notorious by setting the slowest time on record for the 100m freestyle – but won his heat as his two competitors were disqualified for being too quick off the blocks.  

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Don’t copy, right!

London 2012

Cafe owner Kamel Kichane was forced by the LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games) to change the name of his diner or face legal action over the use of the word Olympic. He was faced the prospect of a £3,000 bill to change his signs and logos but decided to make the necessary alterations with minimal expense.

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Limp excuse

London 2012

Cafe owner Kamel Kichane was forced by the LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games) to change the name of his diner or face legal action over the use of the word Olympic. He was faced the prospect of a £3,000 bill to change his signs and logos but decided to make the necessary alterations with minimal expense.  

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Gold or silver?

1912 Stockholm

1912 was the last time that the Olympic Gold Medal was made of solid gold. Now, stipulations require that both gold and silver medals be made of at least 92.5% pure silver, while the gold medal must be gilded with at least 6 grams of gold.  

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Keeping Sunday special

1924 Paris

Eric Liddell was deeply religious and chose to deliver a sermon at the Scottish church in Paris instead of trying for gold on a Sunday. Fellow Brit Harold Abrahams went on to win Gold, whilst Liddell won the 400 metres and the chronicle of the two sprinters was retold in the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire.

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Private to Brigadier-General

1912 Stockholm

The last Olympic Games to accept private entries – that is individuals not on their country’s official team – was in 1912 whent 21-year-old Oxford undergraduate Arnold Jackson became the youngest person ever to win the 1500m. He went on to have an equally distinguished military career, being one the most highly decorated British World War I officers – and becoming the youngest ever British Army Brigadier-General at the age of 25

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A short cut to success?

2008 Beijing

Brazilian long jumper Maurren Maggi served a two year ban after being accused of using the anabolic steroid Clostebol, and returned to win the gold medal at Beijing. She claimed that the substance was in her hair-removal cream, and was later cleared by the Brazilian Athletics Federation but still left the sport during her suspension.  

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The French Connection

1900 Paris

Motor racing was not an official sport at the 1900 Games, but was featured in 14 events that ran in conjunction with the World Fair.  And the winner of the Paris-Toulouse-Paris race? A certain mr Louis Renault.

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Stop Press. Police win gold in tug of war

1908 London

One of the most outstanding moments of the London Games was the men’s tug of war, when the long arm of the law came in useful – with gold going to City of London Police, silver to Liverpool Police, and bronze to Metropolitan Police ‘K’ Division.

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Bring a bottle Olympics

1948 London

With rationing still very much in place following the war, visiting athletes were asked to bring their own food, with any surplus to be donated to British hospitals. The Dutch generously sent 100 tons of fruit and vegetables, Denmark gave 160,000 eggs, and Czechoslovakia provided 20,000 bottles of mineral water.

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“opening his legs…”

1976 Montreal

“and there goes Juantorena down the back straight, opening his legs and showing his class” said Ron Pickering as he commentated on the long-legged Cuban in the 800 metres.

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Olympic medal wrap

1984 Los Angeles

US 4’ 8” athlete Mary Lou Retton was the first female outside Eastern Europe to win gold for Gymnastics; coupled with the two silver and two bronze medals she also took in Los Angeles, it made her the highest medal winner at the Games. But her other claim to fame was her statement to the press years later, when she stated, “For six years, I kept my five Olympic medals wrapped in a plastic bread bag beneath my bed”.

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Spot the difference

2012 London

Helen and Carol Galashan, identical twins who compete as a synchronised diving partnership, are hoping to win gold for Britain in the 2012 London Olympics. The most high-profile twins to compete in the Olympics are the Winklevoss twins – Cameron and Tyler – who, in between court cases over Facebook, represented the US in the Olympic men’s coxless pair rowing event in Beijing.

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We could be herpes

2008 Beijing

When the US athletes returned from Beijing, the US Olympic Committee greeted them with a victory ceremony and banners spelling out words of welcome. Unfortunately, an error on all the signage overshadowed the warm feelings by printing the word ‘herpes’ instead of ‘heroes’.

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The height of protest

1906 Athens

Irish athlete Peter O’Connor won in the triple jump but was unhappy about being lumped together with the British team, a consequence of Ireland not having an Olympic Committee. So at the medal ceremony, O’Connor scaled the flagpole and hoisted the Irish flag as a protest, while the pole was guarded by other athletes and supporters.

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Keep calm and (cash and) carry on

1948 London

The war, marriage and childbirth forced Dutch athlete Fanny Blankers-Koen to take several years out of competition and when she returned in 1948 aged 30, British team manager Jack Crump branded her ‘too old’. She went on to win four gold medals, and when thousands welcomed her on her return to Amsterdam, the city presented her with a new bike.

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What a photo

1980 Moscow

With America boycotting the Games because of the USSR‚ invasion and occupying of Afghanistan in 1979, Scot Allan Wells took full advantage of the weakened line-up and pipped Cuban favourite Silvio Leonard to edge the 100m title in a photo-finish. Wells became the first Brit to claim this event since Harold Abrahams in 1924, as well as starting the trend for lycra by being the first sprinter to wear cycling shorts in a race.

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Float like a…

1960 Rome

Cassius Clay won gold in the light heavyweight class and was said to be so proud that he wore the medal for two days. According to his autobiography though, his feelings soured when he was refused service in a ‘whites-only’ restaurant back in the US and threw his medal in the Ohio River in disgust.

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Naked ambition

Ancient Olympics

The male athletes of ancient Greece competed naked and covered with olive oil to show off their physiques in the early Games – in fact, the word ‘gymnasium’ is derived from the Greek word gymnos, meaning naked.

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Removal of clothes

1976 Montreal

Canadian Michael Leduc, disrupted the closing ceremony in Montreal by ‘cavorting nude’ (the press’s words, not ours), and officially became the first streaker in the history of the Games.

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Fancy a lift?

1904 St. Louis

Whilst running the marathon Frederick Lorz collapsed after nine miles. His manager then gave him a lift, and when his car broke down Lorz continued on foot to the stadium, finishing first. After admitting his error he was stripped of his gold medal.

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Really, really fast food

2008 Beijing

‘I woke around 11am and decided to watch some TV and had some nuggets. Then I slept for a couple of hours more. Then I got some more nuggets’. This is how Usain Bolt, says he spent the morning of his 100m run, when he shattered the world record with a time of 9.69 seconds.

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Bangers out of order

2012 London

When Little Chef wanted to celebrate two decades of it’s hearty Olympic Breakfast it approached Daley Thompson – as an Olympian of truly legendary status – to advertise. It was slapped down however for trying to use an Olympic athlete for a brand that was not an official partner of the 2012 Games.