Fact of the Day
India, still a British colony, was forced to march behind the Union Jack at the Opening Ceremony at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, but the hockey players saluted the flag of the Indian National Congress before their 8-1 gold-medal victory over Germany in which a barefoot Dhyan Chand scored a hat-trick. Nicknamed "the Wizard," Chand is perhaps the greatest hockey player in the history of the sport, and all kinds of legends have sprouted from that match, including that Chand scored six goals - a myth he dispelled in his 1952 autobiography, Goal! Another myth is the score could have been even more lopsided: Once the outcome seemed decided, India would move the ball into scoring position but would not attempt a shot on goal. A second story tells of Adolf Hitler offering Chand a chance to become a German citizen and military officer. A third, however, has Hitler leaving the match at halftime.
The first official poster produced for the Olympic Games was at Stockholm in 1912. After a thorough examination of several sketches sent in, and after having conferred with prominent Swedish artists in the matter, the Swedish Olympic Committee, chose a design by Olle Hjortzberg, of the Royal Academy, which had been sent in to the Committee in 1910, but had afterwards been slightly altered, representing the march of the nations - each athlete with a waving flag - to the common goal of the Olympic Games. The poster proved so popular that it needed to be reprinted several times to satisfy demand.
Lacrosse has been held in two Olympic Games, St Louis 1904 and London 1908. Both times it was open only to men and both times a Canadian team won the gold medal. At St Louis 1904, three teams from United States and Canada competed with Canadian team Shamrock triumphing. The second appearance, at London four years later, saw only two teams, from Canada and Great Britain, compete. Lacrosse was also held as a demonstration event at Amsterdam 1928, Los Angeles 1932 and London 1948.
The 1956 Olympics in Melbourne were affected by a number of boycotts. Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon announced they would not participate in the Games in response to the Suez Crisis when Egypt was invaded by Israel, Britain and France after Egypt nationalised the Suez canal. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union crushed the Hungarian Revolution, leading to the withdrawal of the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland. Less than two weeks before the Opening Ceremony November, the People's Republic of China chose to boycott the event because Taiwan, officially the Republic of China had been allowed to compete.China did not compete in the Olympics again until Los Angeles 1984.
During the pole vault at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, the crowd supporting the Soviet Union's Konstantin Volkov booed, hissed, jeered, and whistled his main rival, Poland's Władysław Kozakiewicz. Following his victory, Kozakiewicz responded with an obscene bent elbow gesture which was widely supported in Polish society, which resented Soviet control over Eastern Europe. The Soviet Ambassador to Poland demanded Kozakiewicz be stripped of his medal over his "insult to the Soviet people". The official response of the Polish Government was that Kozakiewicz's arm gesture had been an involuntary muscle spasm. To this day the act is still referred to in Poland as "Kozakiewicz's gesture".
The very first British Empire Games in Hamilton, Canada, in 1930, were the result of a remarkable feat of organisation. The decision to hold the Games was only finally confirmed in February 1930, yet by August of that same year all the preparations had been completed. The Games ran at a cost of $97,973.00 and featured six sports: aquatics (swimming and diving), athletics, boxing, lawn bowls, rowing and wrestling. The Athletes' Village was the Prince of Wales School next to the Civic Stadium, where the competitors slept two dozen to a classroom, while the women were housed in a separate hotel. Eleven countries sent a total of 400 athletes to the Games.
At the rowing during the 1900 Olympics in Paris, The Netherlands' coxed pair of Francois Brandt and Roelof Klein needed to find a coxswain to replace Hermanus Brockmann after they sacked him because they thought he was too heavy and was jeopardising their chances. They chose a 10-year-old French boy from the crowd and raced to the gold medal, ahead of the host nation. The youngster joined the Dutch at the victory ceremony and even had his photograph taken with them, although it is not believed he received a medal. His identity was never established and still remains a mystery. But he is probably the youngest gold medallist in Olympic history.
At the first ten Olympic Games of the modern era, the medals were presented at the Closing Ceremony. But, at Los Angeles 1932 each victory ceremony took place shortly after the end of each event, a tradition that was adopted at subsequent Games and that has become a permanent feature. Los Angeles also introduced the tiered victory podium on which the three medallists stand to receive their awards and was also the first Games to see the gold medallist honoured with the raising of his national flag and the playing of their national anthem during the presentation.
Charles Simmons, a member of the British gymnastics team that won Olympic bronze medals at Stockholm 1912, was the father of actress Jean Simmons. She starred in several successful films, including Great Expectations in 1946, The Big Country in 1958, Elmer Gantry and Spartacus, both in 1960. Sadly, Simmons missed his daughter's success as he died in 1945.
The 1960 Olympic road cycling race in Rome was marred by the death of Denmark's Knut Enemark, who collapsed from sunstroke in the 100 plus degrees heat and suffered a fractured skull. It was later revealed that before the race Enemark had taken Ronicol, a blood circulation stimulant. But the three Italian physicians who performed the autopsy submitted a final report claiming Jensen's death was caused by heatstroke, and no drugs were found in his body. Years later, Alvaro Marchiori, one of the doctors who conducted the autopsy, claimed they had "found traces of several things", including amphetamines. Jensen's death led the International Olympic Committee to form a medical committee in 1961 and drugs testing at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble.
The first person known to defect at an Olympic Games came at London 1948 when Marie Provaznikova, leader of the Czechoslovakian women's gymnastics team, refused to return home because "there is no freedom of speech, of the press or of assembly". After a few months' stay in England she moved to the United States and resided there for the rest of her life, teaching PE and organising Sokol units in America and internationally. She died in 1992, at the age of 100.
American George Eyser won six Olympic medals in gymnastics in a single day at St Louis 1904, including three gold and two silver medals, despite competing with a wooden prosthesis for a left leg. He had lost his real leg after being run over by a train when he was a teenager. Despite his disability, he won gold in the vault, an event which then included a jump over a long horse without aid of a springboard. Eyser remained the only person with an artificial leg to have competed at the Olympic Games until Beijing 2008 when South Africa's Natalie du Toit took part in the 10 kilometres swimming marathon, finishing 16th.
The largest and heaviest medals ever awarded to medal winners at an Olympics was at the 1936 Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. They were 100 millimetres in diameter, four millimetres thick and weighed 342 grams. Norway finished top of the medals table with a total of 15, including seven gold, easily ahead of the host nation Germany, who won six, three of them gold.
Hidy and Howdy, mascots for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, continued to be used by the city to greet visitors for nearly 20 years after the Games ended. The smiling, cowboy-themed polar bears, designed to evoke memories of "western hospitality" were popular across Canada. The sister-brother pair made up to 300 appearances per month in the lead up to the Games. From their introduction at the Closing Ceremonies of Sarajevo 1984 until the conclusion of Calgary 1988, the pair made about 50,000 appearances. It was not until 2007 that Calgary stopped using their images on posters.
A sled dog race was included as a demonstration event at the 1932 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. There were five contestants from Canada and seven from the United States. The event, run under the rules of the New England Sled Dog Club, ran twice over a 25.1 mile long course. With six dogs per sled, each sled took off at three-minute intervals, and intermediate times were given to the mushers at four miles, 10.6 miles, and 22.46 miles. The event was won by Canada's Emile St. Godard, who beat America's Leonhard Seppala and compatriot Shorty Russick.