Fact of the Day
Of the 80 plus actors to have been cast by Hollywood to play Tarzan, many have been former Olympic athletes. The trend started in 1933 when Herman Brix, winner of an Olympic silver medal in shot put at Amsterdam 1928, was selected to play the role. But Brix injured his shoulder before filming started and was replaced by former swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, winner of five Olympic golds at Paris 1924 and Amsterdam 1928. Weissmuller played the role in a dozen of movies and still remains the best known of all the Tarzans to be cast.
Margaret Abbott was the first American woman to win an Olympic event when she won the women's golf tournament at Paris in 1900. Abbott won a porcelain bowl for her first place as these were the only Games where the winners received valuable artifacts instead of medals. Historical research did not establish that the game was on the Olympic programme until after Abbott's death at the age of 78 in 1955, so she herself never knew it. Abbott had traveled to Paris to study art under Edgar Degas and Auguste Rodin. Her mother, Mary Perkins Ives Abbott, a novelist and Chicago Tribune book reviewer, also competed in the event, finishing equal seventh, making it the first - and still only - Olympic event in which a mother and daughter competed at the same time.
When the Czech Republic's Štěpánka Hilgertová returned to Prague after winning the Olympic gold medal in the canoeing K-1 event at Sydney 2000 she celebrated by taking a bath in a tub filled with 160 bottles of champagne. It was Hilgertová's second consecutive gold medal, having also won at Atlanta 1996, and she was awarded a bonus of $24,000 by the Czech Government. "I would compete even if there was no bonus," she said. "First, I like winning and second, like any woman, I am vain and I like to be the centre of attention."
Los Angeles were the only bidders for the 1984 Summer Olympics following the withdrawal of Tehran before the final selection in 1978. Los Angeles had unsuccessfully bid for the two previous Summer Olympics, in 1976 and 1980, awarded to Montreal and Moscow respectively. The United States Olympic Committee had at least one bid for every Olympics since 1944, but had not succeeded since the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932, the previous time there had been a single city in the race. Los Angeles is bidding to host the 2024 Olympics and will follow London as the only city to stage them three times if they are successful when the International Olympic Committee votes at its Session in Lima in 2017.
Tonga's King Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV declared a national holiday after boxer Paea Wolfgramm won an Olympic silver medal in the super-heavyweight division at Atlanta 1996. Wolfgramm, who stood at 1.93 metres tall and weighed 147 kilograms, was beaten in the final by Ukraine's Wladimir Klitschko. Klitschko won the world heavyweight title in 2006 and, as of November 2015, had successfully defended the title 23 times. Woflgramm's professional career was less successful and he retired after 20 victories and four defeats, including losing to Klitschko in just 90 seconds in 2000 for the WBC International heavyweight title. Wolfgramm now runs a car hire business in Brisbane.
The idea of holding the South Pacific Games originated with Dr A.H. Sahu Khan, one of Fiji's representatives at a meeting of the South Pacific Commission held at Rabaul during 1959. The idea was adopted and led to a meeting of nine Territories, held in Nouméa during March 1961, which awarded Fiji the honour of hosting the very first Games in 1963. The event changed its name to the Pacific Games in 1998 when it took place in Santa Rita, Guam.
American ski jumper Anders Haugen did not receive his Olympic bronze medal from Chamonix in 1924 until 50 years after he should have done due to a scoring error. In 1974, at the 50th reunion of the 1924 Norwegian team, sports historian Jacob Vaage was going over the results when he noticed the error. The bronze medal had been awarded by mistake to Norwegian skier Thorleif Haug, winner of three gold medals in those first Winter Olympics. Later that year, Haugen visited Norway as an 86-year-old and was given the bronze medal by Anna Maria Magnussen, Haug's youngest daughter.
Sailors Yoel Sela and Eldad Amir would almost certainly have become Israel's first-ever Olympic medalists at Seoul in 1988 in the Flying Dutchman if the second race of the series had not fallen on Yom Kippur, the most important holiday of the Jewish year. Israeli officials had made it clear they did not want any athletes competing on that day, threatening anyone that did with expulsion from the Games, so Sela and Amir duly sat out the second race of the event. They subsequently finished eighth and would have been guaranteed a medal if they had competed in that missed race and finished higher than 11th, which they did in five of their six races.
Greece guaranteed themselves at least one gold medal at the first Modern Olympics in Athens in 1896 when they created a special event: the 100 metres freestyle swimming race for members of the Greek navy. Three men entered, with Ioannis Malokinis taking the gold in a time of 2min 20.4sec. That was almost a full minute slower than the 1:22.2 by Hungary's Alfréd Hajós that won the open, non-sailor 100m freestyle race.
Romanian boxer Nicolae Berechet, 21, was eliminated in the first round of his featherweight class at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin after losing to Estonia's Evald Seeberg. A few days after the bout he died mysteriously of blood poisoning and was buried in Berlin. There remains suggestions that he died as a result of injuries sustained in the fight. Seeberg lost his second round fight to American Theodore Kara.
At the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Fritz Thiedemann - who had commanded a German cavalry unit during World War Two before being captured towards the end and interned in a Russian prison camp - created a unique piece of history. The farmer's son earned bronze medals in both individual show jumping and team dressage to become the only rider in Olympic history to win medals in two equestrian disciplines at the same Games. He went on to gold medals in team jumping at the 1956 Olympics, when the equestrian events were held in Stockholm, and Rome 1960. The Thiedemann rein is named after him.
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.