Fact of the Day
When boxer Michael Carruth won the welterweight gold medal at Barcelona in 1992 he became the first Irish competitor to become Olympic champion since Ron Delany had won the 1500 metres at Melbourne in 1956. To celebrate the occasion, and mark Carruth's return home, pubs in Dublin decided to drop the price of Guinness to what it had cost in 1956, So, all over Ireland's capital that day, drinkers were raising a pint that cost 4p to Carruth.
Britain's Harold Abrahams and New Zealand's Arthur Porritt, who won the gold and bronze medals in the 100 metres at the 1924 Olympics in Paris, struck up such a friendship that until Abrahams' death in 1978 the two of them, along with their wives, had dinner every year at 7.00pm on July 7 - the day and the hour of that historic final, later immortalised in the Oscar-winning film, Chariots of Fire. Due to Porritt's modesty his name in the film was changed to "Tom Watson",
Italian archer Paola Fantato was the first athlete to compete in the Olympics and Paralympics in the same year, when she took part in both Games at Atlanta in 1996. Fantato had been afflicted with polio when she was eight and was confined to a wheelchair. At Atlanta she placed 54th in the women's individual competition in the Olympics but took a bronze medal in women's individual and a gold in women's team at the Paralympics. She took part in five consecutive Paralympics, winning a total of eight medals, including five gold.
Thai weightlifter Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon has the record for the longest name of any Olympic champion, at 31 letters. She was born Junpim Kuntatean but changed it on the advice of fortune teller she saw in 2007 who told her it would improve her chances of winning an Olympic gold medal. The name means "Good Girl, Prosperous" and was so long that when she won the gold medal in the 53 kilograms category at Beijing 2008 it did not fit onto the scoreboard, which listed her as "J".
Ahmed Boughèra El Ouafi won the Olympic marathon at Amsterdam in 1928, representing France having been spotted after joining the military in his native Algeria, a French territory at the time. He was banned following his victory when the authorities ruled him a professional after touring the United States to take part in races. He was killed in 1961, three days after his 61st birthday, while sitting in a café in Paris by members of the pro-Algeria independence party, the National Liberation Front, after he had refused to support them.
Toshiyuki "Harold" Sakata won an Olympic silver medal in light-heavyweight weighlifting at London 1948, where he competed for the United States. But he found much greater fame when, in 1964, he was given the role of Oddjob in the James Bond movie Goldfinger where he was bodyguard to the villain Auric Goldfinger. His sharpened, steel-brimmed bowler hat became a famous and much-parodied trademark of the Bond series. Sakata appeared in several other movies in similar roles and took on "Oddjob" as an informal middle name.
Olympic pin collecting dates back to the very first Modern Olympics, at Athens in 1896. The "pins" were actually cardboard disks, designed as colourful badges to identify athletes, officials and the media. Some people that summer started exchanging their pins as a gesture of goodwill and a tradition took root, with thousands of Olympic pin collectors now across the world.
Canadian sailor Lawrence Lemieux was in second place and poised to win an Olympic medal in the Finn class at Seoul 1988 when he abandoned the race to save Singapore pair Joseph Chan and Siew Shaw Her, competing in the 470 class, which was sharing the course. They had been thrown into the rough water in Pusan. After he rescued Chan and Siew, Lemieux waited for and transferred the two sailors onto an official patrol boat. He then finished 22nd, missing out on his chance of a medal, but was recognised by the International Olympic Committee with the Pierre de Coubertin medal honouring his bravery and sacrifice.
The first black African skier to compete in the Winter Olympics was Senegal's Lamine Guèye, who made his debut at Sarajevo 1984. Guèye, who had founded the Senegalese Ski Federation in 1979, went on to compete at Albertville 1992 and Lillehammer 1994. Guèye has subsequently become a prominent figure in drawing attention to what he considers to be discriminatory qualification rules for the Winter Olympics, and has written to the International Olympic Committee requesting that all countries be granted the right to participate in the Winter Games, as was the case up to 1992.
At the Closing Ceremony of Moscow 1980 an Olympic Flag handover took place for the first time. But, because the United States had boycotted the Games in protest at the Soviet Union invasion of Afghanistan, the Los Angeles flag, rather than the American flag, was raised to symbolise the next host city. And the Olympic flag was handed over to International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch, rather than Los Angeles Mayor Thomas Bradley.
Denmark's Lis Hartel became the first woman in the equestrian sports to win an Olympic medal when she earned a silver in the individual dressage at Helsinki 1952. Four years later, she again won silver at the Melbourne Games in which the equestrian events were held in Stockholm because of Australian quarantine laws. She achieved her success despite suffering from polio when she was 23. She gradually reactivated most of her muscles, although she remained paralysed below the knees and her arms and hands also were affected, meaning she needed help to get on and off her horse.
Haiti's Samyr Laine, 11th in the triple jump at London 2012, is a close personal friend of Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, having shared a room with him while both students at Harvard University. The American-born Laine, whose parents are Haitian, was the 14th member to join Facebook, the social networking site which now has more than a billion users. "He was always incredibly hard working and serious, both as a student and as an athlete," wrote Zuckerberg on Facebook during London 2012. "He's also just a really nice guy."
Czechoslovakia's Vlastimil Bubník, who until 2010 shared the record of being the highest points scorer in the history of Olympic ice hockey, also represented his country at football. As an ice hockey player, Bubník scored 39 points in four Olympics, winning a bronze medal at Innsbruck 1964. Four years earlier, as a footballer, he had scored one of Czechoslovakia's goals in their 2-0 defeat of host nation France to claim third place in the 1960 European Nations Cup in Marseille.
The first Winter Paralympic Games were held in 1976 in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden and were originally called the 1st Winter Olympic Games for the Disabled. They were the first Paralympics in which multiple categories of athletes with disabilities could compete and featured competitions in Alpine and Nordic skiing for amputee and visually impaired athletes, and a demonstration event in ice sledge racing. A total of 198 athletes from 16 countries took part with West Germany topping the medals table with a total of 28 medals, ten of them gold.
South Africa were banned from competing in the Olympics on the eve of Tokyo 1964 due to its apartheid policies but were allowed to continue taking part in the Paralympics until after the 1976 Games in Toronto. Similarly, Rhodesia were banned from the 1972 Olympics in Munich, in response to African countries' protests against its white regime, but were allowed to take part in the Paralympics in Heidelberg. South Africa returned to the Olympics and Paralympics at Barcelona in 1992 while Rhodesia was renamed Zimbabwe in 1980.