Fact of the Day
Chicago won the original bid to host the 1904 Olympics, but organisers of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis would not accept another international event in the same time frame and put Baron Pierre de Coubertin under pressure to move the event. More than 110 years later, Chicago is still waiting to host the Games following failed bids for 1952, 1956 and 2016.
American sprinter Ralph Craig won Olympic gold medals in the 100 and 200 metres at Stockholm in 1912 at the age of 23. There were seven false starts in the final of the shorter race, three by Craig. In one of them Craig and another sprinter ran the entire distance. Immediately after the Games, Craig retired from the sport. But he returned to Olympic competition 36 years later when, at the age of 59, he was selected by the United States as an alternate on the yachting team for London 1948. Craig never actually competed in those Games but did carry the US flag at the Opening Ceremony.
In 1972, American Frank Shorter, who was born in Munich, became the first from his country in 64 years to win the Olympic marathon. As Shorter was nearing the end, German student Norbert Sudhaus entered the Stadium, joined the race and ran the last kilometre; thinking he was the winner, the crowd began cheering him before officials realised the hoax and escorted him away. Arriving seconds later, Shorter was perplexed to see someone ahead of him and to hear the boos and catcalls meant for Sudhaus.
Both the gold and silver medal-winning rowing teams in the coxless pairs event at Moscow 1980 were identical twins. East Germany's Bernd and Jorg Landvoigt took the gold medal, while the Soviet Union's Nikolai and Yuri Pimenov claimed the silver. Britain's Malcolm Carmichael and Charles Wiggin took the bronze medal.
Gymnast Alfred Flatlow won four medals, including three gold, at the first Modern Olympics at Athens in 1896 but was banned when he retunrned home because Deutsche Turnerschaft, the German governing body, had not authorised his participation. A Jew, Flatlow was sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp by the Nazis in 1942, where he died a few months later.
In 1932 the American Paul H. Helms - and not the International Olympic Committee - was the first to officially register the Olympic Rings, the Motto and the word "Olympic". The Helms Bakery supplied bread and pastry products to the Olympics in Los Angeles that year and continued their relationship with the Games until 1952, supplying the United States team with their product. Helms vehicles sported the Olympic symbol and it also appeared on bread wrappers. Helms's use of the Olympic symbols inevitably resulted in conflict with the IOC. He generously surrended all his licences to use the Olympic symbols to the IOC in 1950.
East Germany's Christa Luding made history at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul when she won a silver medal in the women's cycling individual sprint. A few months earlier, at the Winter Games in Calgary, she had taken part in the speed skating and won a gold medal in the 1000m speed skating and silver in the 500m. She is the only person ever to win medals at both the Summer and Winter Games in the same year - a feat that is no longer possible because the two events now take part in separate years. Luding also won a gold medal at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo in the 500m and a bronze in the same event at Albertville in 1992.
American Betty Robinson was the winner of the first Olympic 100 metres for women at Amsterdam in 1928. Three years later, Robinson was involved in a plane crash, and was severely injured. A man who discovered her in a coma in the wreckage wrongly thought she was dead, put her in his trunk and drove her to an undertaker, where his mistake was discovered. She awoke from the coma seven months later, although it was another six months before she could get out of a wheelchair, and two years before she could walk normally again. Meanwhile, she missed the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. Still unable to kneel for a normal 100m start, Robinson was a part of the US 4x100m relay team at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. The US team was running behind the heavily favored Germans, but they dropped the baton, allowing Robinson to win her second Olympic title.
Three days before the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, controversy over amateur status arose when International Olympic Committee President Avery Brundage threatened to disqualify 40 Alpine skiers who received endorsement and other deals. Austrian skier Karl Schranz, who received over $50,000 per year from ski manufacturers, was banned as an example. Meanwhile, Canada refused to send an ice hockey team, maintaining that professional players from Communist nations were allowed to compete with no restrictions. It was the first time Canada had not been represented in the tournament since 1920 when ice hockey had made its debut as part of the Summer Olympics at Antwerp. They did not compete internationally again until 1977, when the International Ice Hockey Federation adopted eligibility rules that allowed for professional players to compete. Instead of playing at the Olympics, Canadian officials helped organise a series of games against the Soviet Union in 1972 known as the Summit Series.
The 1900 Olympics in Paris included a few events that have long been discontinued. Among them were both a long jump and a high jump for horses. The only equestrian long jump event at the Games was won by a Belgian rider named Constant van Langhendonck with a leap of approximately 6.10 metres - 1.08m shorter than America's Alvin Kraenzlein managed to win the human version. At the same Games, Kraenzlein also won gold medals in the 60 metres, 110m hurdles and 200m hurdles. In 1913 he signed a five-year $50,000 contract with the German Government to train the 1916 German Olympic track and field team only for it to be cancelled because of World War One.
The first Olympic Games to be telecast in North America was Rome 1960 after United States broadcaster CBS paid $394,000 - $3.2 million in today's dollars - for the rights. In addition to CBS in the US, the Olympics were shown for the first time in Canada on CBC Television and in Mexico through the networks of Telesistema Mexicano. Since television broadcast satellites were still two years into the future, CBS, CBC, and Televissa shot and edited videotapes in the Italian capital, fed the tapes to Paris where they were re-recorded onto other tapes which were then loaded onto jet planes to North America. Planes carrying the tapes landed at Idlewild Airport in New York City, where mobile units fed the tapes to CBS, to Toronto for the CBC, and to Mexico City for Televisa. Despite this arrangement, many daytime events were broadcast in North America, especially on CBS and CBC, the same day they took place.
The International Olympic Committee did not have any female members until 1981 when it elected Venezuela's Flor Isava-Fonseca and Finland's Pirjo Häggman. Now there are 24 women who are IOC members, representing 22.6 per cent of the total membership of 106. There are also four honorary members. Isava-Fonseca, a sportswoman, journalist and writer, was the first woman elected to the IOC Executive Board in 1990. America Anita DeFrantz, a former rower who won an Olympic bronze medal at Montreal 1976, became the first female vice-president of the IOC between 1997 and 2001. She stood unsuccessfully to replace Juan Antonio Samaranch when he stood down as IOC President in 2001.
Montreal bid for the Winter Olympics, first in 1944 - cancelled due to World War Two - and then again in 1956. The city also lost out in its bid for the Summer Olympics in 1956 and 1972, finally winning the 1976 Summer Olympics in 1970. Several venues used for those Games were already in existence before Montreal made its first Olympic bid in the late 1930s. The oldest of these was the Varisty Stadium, originally built in 1898 and which hosted football during Montreal 1976. The Molson Stadium, which staged hockey, meanwhile, had been constructed in 1903.
America's men's basketball team scored an Olympic record 156 points when they beat Nigeria at London 2012. The record fell when Andre Igoudala hit a three-point shot to make it 139-68, surpassing the previous record of 138 scored by Brazil against Egypt at Seoul 1988. The United States scored 78 points in the first half alone, beating the previous Olympic record of 72, set by that same Brazil team against China in Seoul. The US had 49 points by the end of the first quarter and reached triple figures midway through the third. In total, they made 59-of-83 shots from the field, including 29-of-46 from three-point range.
Lasting a total of 187 days, or six months and four days, London 1908 was the longest in modern Olympics history. They were opened on April 27 by King Edward VII and finally closed on October 31. They were held alongside the Franco-British Exhibition, an event that attracted eight million visitors and celebrated the Entente Cordiale signed in 1904 by the United Kingdom and France and which initially attracted more interest among the public and media.