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Interesting Olympic Facts

Interesting Facts About the Olympic GamesFunny London Olympics Jokes

Will and Guy's collection of interesting Olympic facts.

The famous wrestler Milo was said to train by carrying a calf every day.  As the calf grew heavier, his muscles got stronger.

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Ten True and Funny Interesting Facts from Past Olympic Events

  1. Rope Climbing took place in the following years: 1896, 1904, 1906, 1924, 1932. Rudimentary gym skills were all it took to win Olympic gold in the early 20th century it appears, as this event basically consisted of shimmying up a rope.
  2. Club Swinging occurred in 1904 and 1932. This consisted of swinging a club festooned with ribbons around your body and head.  Strange but true.
  3. Tug-of-War between 1900 -1920.  Indeed this trickiest of sports favoured by rather overweight beer drinkers in pubs was actually considered an Olympic event.  We hear competitive tug-of-war gave way to another short-lived event: the 40m three-legged race.
  4. In wrestling at the Stockholm Games in 1912, the light heavyweight final between a Swede, Anders Ahlgren, and a Finn, Ivar Bohling, lasted nine hours.  Since neither had gained an advantage over the other, no gold medal was awarded. Each received a silver medal.
  5. Motor boating was an official sport at the 1908 Olympics. It was frowned upon because the competitors were often out of sight of the watching crowds.
  6. Polo was played at the Olympics in 1900, 1908, 1920, 1924, and 1936.
  7. In 1912, in Stockholm, the first electric timing devices and public address system was used at the Olympics.
  8. Ralph Craig ran in the 100m for the USA in 1912.  He next competed in the Olympics in the USA yachting team, some 36 years later in 1948.
  9. The key word "amateur" was eliminated from the Olympic Charter in 1971.
  10. American swimmer Michael Phelps holds both the record for most gold medals won at an Olympic Games, eight, and most career gold medals with 14.

Interesting History of Olympic Medals

  • Olympics MedalsAt the first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896, silver medals were awarded to the winners and bronze to the second place getters.
  • Olympic gold medals haven't been pure gold in years. The 1912 Olympics was the last time that gold medals were solid gold.  Ever since, they've been silver with gold plating.
  • Starting in Amsterdam 1928, all Summer Olympic medals featured the same design: a Greek goddess, the Olympic Rings, the Coliseum of ancient Athens, a Greek vase, a horse-drawn chariot.  Each host city then adds their own design together with with the year and the number of Olympiad.  The host city has control over the design of the reverse side of the medal.
  • In 1900, in France, Olympian winners got paintings instead of gold medals. Gold, silver and bronze medals weren't given out until the third modern Olympics in 1904. The French gave the winners paintings because they believed they were more valuable.
  • Incidentally, more athletes than spectators attended the 1900 Paris Olympic Games.
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More Interesting Olympic Games Facts

  • No women competed in 1896, as de Coubertin felt that their inclusion would be "impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic, and incorrect."
  • The first black athlete to compete at the Olympics was Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera, competing for France in 1900.
  • The Berlin 1936 Olympiad was the first games to be televised.
  • The only Olympian ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize was Philip Noel-Baker of Great Britain, who won the silver in the 1500 metres in 1920.
  • The first Winter Olympic Games were held in Chamonix, France in 1924. Norway has won the most medals (263) at the Winter Games.
  • In Beijing 2008, equestrian rider Hiroshi Hoketsu became the oldest Japanese Olympic representative at age 67. Hoketsu also took part in the 1964 Tokyo Games at the age of 23 where he finished 40th in the show jumping event.
  • In order for a sport to be considered for inclusion in the Olympics it must be 'widely practiced' by men in at least 75 countries and on four continents, and by women in at least 40 countries and on three continents.
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Interesting Facts about the London 2012 Olympics

Olympic sites are chosen by secret ballot, so we're not sure how London beat Paris for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Some blame French President Jacques Chirac, who insulted Britain before the vote by saying, "After Finland, it's the country with the worst food."  France's bid wasn't getting British support anyway, but Finland had two IOC members, and some speculate that they were swing votes in the 54-50 outcome. 

See more London Olympics trivia

Interesting Facts from the Ancient Olympic Games

  • The very first recorded Ancient Olympic Games took place in 776 BC. The event was a 'stadion' race - a foot race on a running track 183m [200 yards] long.  The Greeks called this measurement a stade - from which we derive the word "stadium". 
  • Milo of Kroton, one of the greatest Ancient Olympic champions. He won the wrestling event 6 times, over a span of 34 years. [The famous wrestler Milo was said to train by carrying a calf every day.  As the calf grew heavier, his muscles got stronger.]
  • Did you know that all athletes competed in the nude at the ancient Olympics?
  • The early Olympic Games included competitions for trumpeters.
  • In the ancient Olympics, the philosopher Plato [427-347 BC] was a double winner of the Pankration. [Combat sport, a mix of wrestling and boxing].
  • In ancient times married women were prohibited from watching the Games under penalty of death.
  • In ancient times big sunhats were banned in the crowd, because they blocked other spectators' view.
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Olympic Games Myths Olympic Games Myths

Pelops, a prince from Lydia sought the hand of the daughter of King Oinomaos of Pisa, namely Hippodamia. Oinomaos had declared that his daughter's suitors should compete with him in a chariot race; winning it he gets Hippodamia as his wife; but on losing it, he would be beheaded.

Pelops with his charioteer Myrtilos secretly replaced the bronze linchpins of the King's chariot with wax linchpins. During the race, the wax melted and Oinomaos was thrown from his chariot and died. Pelops and Hippodamia got married and Pelops celebrated his victory with the Olympic Games.

According to another myth, poet Pindar, in his Olympian Ode, tells the tale of how King Augeas of Elis reneged on his promise to reward Herakles for cleaning his stables. Herakles attacked and sacked Elis and started the Olympic Games in honour of his father Zeus.

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See more about The London 2012 Olympic Games:

The 2012 London Olympics   • Olympics trivia   • London Olympics trivia   • Funny Olympic jokes

Olympics history   • Olympic Games scandals   • Funny Olympic cartoons   • London Olympic stamps

Interesting Olympic facts   • Alternative Olympics   • Olympic Marathons   • Top 10 Olympic athletes