Fact of the Day
Many countries may have boycotted the 1980 Olympics in Moscow following the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan but the Games were still a major success. A total of 36 world records, 39 European records and 74 Olympic records were broken. Meanwhile, more than five million people attended the 203 events in 21 sports, 1.5 million more than had watched the previous Olympics at Montreal four years earlier.
North Korea's Dan Shin-Geum, the first woman to run the 800 metres in under two minutes, was banned from Tokyo 1964 by the International Olympic Committee, along with other athletes who had competed in the Games of the New Emerging Forces in Jakarta, an event organised by Indonesia. But the IOC were unhappy the event had included athletes from China and North Vietnam, who did not have recognised National Olympic Committees, and banned everyone who had competed. Indonesia and North Korea retaliated by boycotting the first Olympics ever to be held in Asia.
The first Olympics which featured a 400 metres track was at Amsterdam in 1928, a distance that would become standard for tracks in the future. The winner of the one-lap race at those Games was American Ray Barbuti in a time of 47.8sec. He was also part of the United States 4x400m relay team that won the gold medals.
Frank Kugler won four Olympics medals in freestyle wrestling, weightlifting and tug of war at St Louis in 1904, making him the only competitor to win a medal in three different sports at the same Games. He claimed a silver medal in the heavyweight category in wrestling, bronze in the two hand lift and all-around dumbbell events in weightlifting and another bronze in the tug of war competition as a member of Southwest Turnverein of Saint Louis No. 2 team. He is recognised as an American by the International Olympic Committee although he was a German national at the time of the Games.
Exclusive rights to film the 1924 Olympics in Paris went to Rapid-Film of France which led to an American threat to withdraw from the Games when they were told they could not make their own film of their rugby matches. After negotiations the Americans were allowed to film for educational and archive purposes, which was just as well because the United States team won the final, retaining the title they had won in Antwerp four years earlier, beating France 17-3. Rare vintage footage of the match was later included in the rugby documentary, A Giant Awakens: the Rise of American Rugby.
Britain's curlers won the gold medal at the very first Winter Olympics, in Chamonix in 1924 - but it was not until 82 years later the fact was officially acknowledged by the International Olympic Committee. It was only in February 2006 they ruled that the medals were part of the official Olympic programme in 1924, and not a demonstration event as many sources had previously claimed. It was culmination of a campaign begun by the Glasgow-based newspaper The Herald, on behalf of the families of the eight Scots who won the first curling gold medals.
Morocco's Nawal El Moutawakel was the first Arab Muslim woman to claim an Olympic gold medal when she won the women's 400 metres hurdles at Los Angeles in 1984. El Moutawakel's victory was a major surprise and King Hassan II of Morocco telephoned her to give his congratulations, and he declared that all girls born the day of her victory were to be named in her honour. El Moutawakel is now a leading sports administrator with the International Olympic Committee and the International Association of Athletics Federations.
Polish fencer Jerzy Pawłowski won an Olympic gold medal in the individual sabre at Mexico City 1968. In 1976 Pawłowski, a major in the Polish Army, was sentenced by a court in Warsaw to 25 years' prison for having committed espionage since 1964, and his name erased from Polish sporting records. He had been a double agent for the United States CIA from 1964, and for Polish intelligence from 1950. Ten years later, he was included in one of the spy exchanges at Berlin's Glienicke Bridge but chose to remain in Poland and spent the rest of his life as a painter and faith healer.
Brazil's water polo team paid for their trip to the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics by selling coffee beans at ports during their ocean journey. But things went wrong in the opening match, which they lost 6-1 to the United States. Then, in their second game, against Germany, they became frustrated and attacked Hungarian referee Bela Komjadi. Police had to step in and protect him. The Brazilians were thrown out of the tournament, while Komjadi died a year later, at the age of 41 playing water polo. When the Hungarians won the Olympic title in Berlin in 1936 they dedicated their gold medals to his honour.
American James Connolly, the first Olympic champion of the modern era, when he won the hammer at Athens in 1896, later became a noted author and journalist. He published more than 200 stories and 25 novels. Among the stories he had published was an account of the Spanish-American War in the Boston Globe as "Letters from the front" in Cuba. He also covered the 1904 and 1908 Olympics in St Louis and London respectively. In London he responded to the judging controversies by producing an unpublished manuscript entitled "The English as Poor Losers".
Russian weightlifter Ibragim Samadov was stripped of his Olympic bronze medal at Barcelona 1992 after he refused to lean forward to accept it on the podium and, after taking it in his hand, dropped it onto the floor and walked away. He was upset because after a three-way tie for first place in the light-heavyweight division he had been dropped to third because of his heavier bodyweight. Samadov apologised the next day to the International Olympic Committee but they refused to reverse their decision and the International Weightlifting Federation banned him for life.
At the 1904 Olympics in St Louis, a boxer called Carroll Burton entered and won his first match. It was discovered he was not Burton at all, but a man called James Bollinger who had assumed his identity. Bollinger was disqualified and his next opponent, America's Peter Sturholdt, was given a bye into the semi-final, where he was beaten by countryman Jack Egan. In November 1905 it was discovered Egan's real name was Frank Joseph Floyd. Egan was disqualified for competing under a assumed name and stripped of his silver medal. Russell Van Horn moved up to silver and Sturholdt to bronze, despite not winning a single bout.
French tennis player René Lacoste won an Olympic bronze medal in the men's doubles at Paris 1924 but is better known for the iconic clothing brand which carries his name. Once, while playing in the United States, Lacoste saw an alligator skin bag he liked. His coach promised to buy it for him if he won the tournament - only for Lacoste to lose in the final. But the story followed him over the Atlantic, where the alligator was transformed into a crocodile. After that Lacoste was known as the "crocodile" and it became the symbol of the clothing company he launched in 1933.
British fencer Judy Guinness sacrificed the chance to win an Olympic gold medal at Los Angeles in 1932 in the individual foil when she pointed out to officials that they had missed two touches scored against her by final opponent, Ellen Preis of Austria, after they had declared her the winner by one point. The honesty of 21-year-old Guinness cost her the gold medal. Preis later became involved in music, and developed a breathing and movement technique that maximises energy, frees the body of tensions, and lets the voice float freely.
Finland's Tapio Rautavaara won the Olympic gold medal in the javelin at London 1948 and later became a successful singer and film actor, who was supposedly a candidate for the part of Tarzan after Johnny Weissmuller quit. He died at the age of 64 in 1979 after falling and hitting his head on a concrete floor while posing for a photograph at a swimming centre. His injuries were not taken seriously, as staff thought he was drunk. His head was bandaged and he was sent home, only to die as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage at his home in Helsinki.