Happy Olympic Day!

Fact of the Day

Denver become only city in Olympic history to withdraw as hosts

Denver were awarded the 1976 Winter Olympic Games ahead of Sion in Switzerland, Tempere in Finland and Vancouver in Canada at the International Olympic Committee Session in 1970. But in a Colorado referendum in November 1972, voters rejected funding for the event. It is the only time a city has been awarded the Olympics but pulled out. The IOC then offered the Games to Whistler in Canada, but they too declined owing to a change of Government following elections. Salt Lake City offered to host the Games, but the IOC, still reeling from the Denver rejection, declined and selected Innsbruck, the 1964 host city, as a replacement.

Canadian show jumper holds record for most Olympic appearances

Canadian show jumper Ian Millar holds the record for the most Olympic appearances by an athlete in any sport. When he competed at London 2012 at the age of 65 it was the tenth time he had competed in the Games since making his debut 30 years earlier at Munich 1972. He had won his only Olympic medal at Beijing 2008 when he was part of Canada’s team that took silver in the team jumping event. Millar won a gold medal in the Pan American Games team jumping event at Toronto 2015. He announced his retirement in 2019.

Only two athletes in Summer Olympic history have won medals competing for different countries

Two athletes have won Summer Olympic gold medals competing for two different nations. Daniel Carroll first won gold in rugby union representing Australia at London 1908 and then again at Antwerp 1920 for the United States after he had stayed in the country following a tour there. The Georgian-born Kakhi Kakhiashvili won his first gold medal in men’s weightlifting under-90 kilograms competing as part of the Unified Team at Barcelona 1992 and later as a Greek citizen at Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 in the under-99kg and under-94kg categories.

Indian hockey team set records as they dazzle at Los Angeles 1932

The Olympic hockey tournament at Los Angeles 1932 created a couple of records that still stand, including the biggest score in an international match when India beat the hosts the United States 24-1. The match was also notable for the greatest number of goals scored in a single match as Roop Singh hit 10. The US scored their only goal when the Indian goalkeeper Richard Allen was signing autographs for the crowd. Out of the 35 goals India scored in their two matches to win the gold medal, Singh scored 15 and his brother, Dhyan Chand, 10. Journalists voted the team's performances at the Games as "the most outstanding exhibition of skill in any sport".

Taylor becomes first African American to win an Olympic gold medal

John Baxter Taylor Jr. was the first African American to win an Olympic gold medal. Born in Washington D.C. to former slaves, Taylor was a member of the gold medal-winning men's medley relay team at the 1908 Olympics in London. He ran the third leg, performing the 400 metres. Less than five months after returning from London, Taylor died of typhoid fever on December 2, 1908 at the age of 26. The New York Times called him “the world's greatest negro runner”.

Canadian coach Father David Bauer forgives opponent who threw stick at him

During the 1964 Winter Olympic Games ice hockey tournament in Innsbruck, Sweden’s Carl-Göran Öberg broke his stick and tossed it aside during their match against Canada. The broken end of the stick went struck Canada’s coach David Bauer in the face and opened a bleeding wound. Bauer, a Catholic priest, demanded for his players to remain on the bench and not retaliate, since he did not want to take penalties late in the game. Canada went on to win 3-1, and Bauer forgave Öberg for the incident. The next day, Bauer invited Öberg to sit with him while watching the Soviet Union play Czechoslovakia.

Polo made its second appearance in the Olympic Games at London 1908

Polo made its second appearance in the Olympic Games at London 1908 when it took place at the Hurlingham Club, who presented a Challenge Cup to the winner of the tournament. The event consisted of three teams, who all represented the British Olympic Association. There were two teams from England and one from Ireland. The two English teams played each first, with the winner playing against the Irish team. Roehampton won both matches, taking the gold, while the other two teams did not face each other to break the tie for second place and were each awarded silver medals. Polo last appeared on the Olympic programme at Berlin 1936.

Aileen Riggin was the first-ever female Olympic diving champion

Aileen Riggin was the first-ever female Olympic diving champion at Antwerp 1920, winning shortly after having first taken up the sport following her recovery from the Spanish flu. The American was only 14 years and 120 days old when she won a gold medal in the women's 3 metre springboard diving event in the Belgian city, also making her at the time the youngest female Olympic champion. Not only was Riggin the youngest gold medallist at the 1920 Olympics, but she was also the shortest, at only 4ft 8in tall and weighing just 65 pounds. She remains the United States' smallest Olympic champion.

How Amsterdam 1928 changed the face of car parking

The 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam saw a number of important milestones, but one we still all benefit from today is revolutionising car parking. Like other cities around Europe in the late 1920s, the streets of Amsterdam were filling up fast with cars, and during the Games this issue was more pressing than ever, so organisers were forced to rack their brains in search of a solution. The allotted parking area next to the Olympic Stadium had room for a maximum of 2,000 vehicles, nowhere near enough to meet the demand during Games time. In response, the City Council provided a number of other sites that took parking capacity up to 3,500 vehicles and 2,000 bicycles. However, no sooner had one problem been solved than another was created: how were drivers and cyclists supposed to find their way to the new car parks? A solution was found in the shape of small blue panels with a white capital "P" in the middle. So it was that the international traffic sign for parking was born.

Iranian judoka eats away chance of gold medal to avoid meeting Israeli

At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Iranian judoka Arash Miresmaeili was disqualified for weighing in at nearly four pounds above the limit for his weight class of his under-66 kilograms match against an Israeli opponent Ehud Vaks in the first round. It was claimed Miresmaeili had gone on an eating binge to protest the International Olympic Committee's recognition of the state of Israel. Iran does not recognise the state of Israel, and Miresmaeili's actions won praise from high-ranking Iranian officials. Mohammad Khatami, the country's President at the time, was quoted as saying Miresmaili's actions would be "recorded in the history of Iranian glories".  He was later awarded $125,000 by the Government - the same amount given to Olympic gold medallists. 

Road cycling race moved after discovered competitors would have broken speed-limit

The road cycle race at the 1948 Olympic Games in London was moved to Windsor from its originally planned venue at Richmond Park when it was discovered that any activity at more than 20 miles per hour was prohibited. The race was held on Friday August 13 and was started in a torrential downpour on Smith's Lawn in Windsor Great Park by HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. The race distance was 120 miles, comprised of 17 laps which took the leaders approximately 18 minutes each to complete. The individual race was won by France's José Beyaert, while Belgium took the gold medal in the team event. Beyaert remains the last French cyclist to win the Olympic road race.

First Winter Paralympic Games took place in 1976

The first Winter Paralympic Games were held in Örnsköldsvik in Sweden in 1976. The disabilities included were blindness and amputees. A total of 16 countries took part with 53 athletes. Events were held in Alpine and Nordic skiing for amputee and visually impaired athletes and a demonstration event in ice sledge racing. West Germany finished top of the overall medals. They won a total of 28 medals, including 10 gold. The event was originally known as the 1st Winter Olympic Games for the Disabled.

Jamaica celebrates winning surprise gold medal with national holiday

After Jamaica won the Olympic gold medal in the 4x400 metres relay at Helsinki 1952, the island's Governor decreed a national holiday, But after the day of celebrating came the day of reckoning as many islanders were brought to the courts for breaches of the liquor laws. Their plea? "Helsinki, Your Honour". The local newspaper said that the judge smiled and passed "sporting sentences". In Helsinki, the winning team offered the Duke of Edinburgh a drink to help their celebrations. They possessed no drinking glasses but found a toothbrush tumbler. Cheerfully the Duke joined in.

Genchev not such an Angel

Bulgarian weightlifter Angel Genchev was winner of the Olympic gold medal in the lightweight division at Seoul 1988 before he tested positive for a banned diuretic and stripped of the title, In 1992 he was sent to prison for two years after being convicted of rape. But he was released early so he could represent his country at the World Championships in 1994, where he won a bronze medal.  He was sent to prison again in 2001 after he shot at a taxi driver. 

When America sent two ice hockey teams to the Olympics

The ice hockey tournament at the 1948 Olympics in St. Moritz was nearly cancelled after the United States sent two teams. One was sponsored by the Amateur Athletic Union and the United States Olympic Committee and which was strictly amateur. The other by the Amateur Hockey Association and the Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace, who were responsible for approving the participation of national teams at the Games, and included professionals. The IOC initially ruled that neither team could compete, leading the LIHG to threaten to boycott the Olympics, The AHA team were allowed to play but received no official ranking and were not eligible to win a medal.