Olympic Legends: 36 Surprising Tidbits About the Games

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11936 Berlin Olympics

1936 Berlin Olympics

During 1936 Berlin Olympic games, the Nazis ridiculed the US for relying on "non-human black auxiliaries." American black athlete Jesse Owens went on to win 4 gold medals and beat a German at Long Jump in front of Hitler. Four years after Owens' death, a street in Berlin was renamed after him.


2. The night before the Olympic final, Michael Jordan apparently spent the night drinking and gambling all night, then he went on a long day of press appearances, plus 18 holes of golf in Barcelona, before he went on to lead Team USA in a gold-medal winning victory over Croatia.


3. Betty Robinson, an Olympic runner, was involved in a plane crash in 1931 and was wrongly pronounced dead upon first being discovered. She spent 7 months in a coma and it took her 2 years to learn to walk normally again. In 1936, she returned to the US Olympic team and won gold in the relay.


4. The state of Kuwait is banned from the Olympics due to government legislation that permits the state to interfere in elections of sporting organizations. As a result, Kuwaiti athletes compete as independent athletes under the Olympic Flag instead of their own flag.


5. Jesse Owens, winner of four golds in the '36 Olympics said, "Hitler didn't snub me – it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn't even send me a telegram."


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6Jesse Owens

Jesse Owens

After a ticker-tape parade to celebrate his Olympic medals, Jesse Owens was not permitted to enter through the main doors of the Waldorf Astoria and instead was forced to travel up to the event in a freight elevator to reach the reception honoring him.


7. A gymnast at the Rio Olympics named Marisa Dick created a new move for the balance beam and was the first to use it in competition. A “change-leg leap to free-cross split sit” is now known as The Dick Move.


8. An Olympian named Laura Trott was born with a collapsed lung, diagnosed with asthma, stands little over 5ft, weights 115lbs and is now a double Olympic gold medalist in track cycling.


9. Mack Robinson, brother of Jackie Robinson, medaled in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. Upon returning home to California, the only work he could find as an African-American was sweeping streets, which he did while wearing his Olympic 'USA' sweatshirt.


10. During the first Olympic marathon in 1896, a Greek named Spyridon Louis, stopped during the race for a glass of wine. He would later go on to win the race and become a national hero.


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11Manga Akira

Manga Akira

The 2020 Olympics will take place in Tokyo, as predicted in the manga Akira in 1982.


12. The USA has never won Olympic medals in just 3 sports: handball, badminton, and table tennis.


13. After Kirani James won Grenada's first-ever Olympic gold medal in 2012, the country was so proud that the government held a giant 3-hour celebratory rally attended by thousands, gave him US$186,000, printed new stamps, named a new stadium after him, and built a museum/gym in his hometown.


14. An American gymnast named George Eyser won 6 medals, including 3 gold, in a single day at the 1904 Olympics. He was the only Olympian to have competed with a prosthetic limb for the next 100 years, until 2008.


15. Amy Van Dyken, a 6-times Olympic gold medalist swimmer, has been an asthmatic her whole life, proving that children with asthma can grow to be Olympic-level athletes!


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16Duke Kahanamoku

Duke Kahanamoku

At the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, Hawaiian-American Duke Kahanamoku overslept and missed his qualifying heat in the 100m freestyle. His main rival, Cecil Healy of Australia, convinced judges to hold a special qualifying race for Duke. Duke ended up going on to win the gold, and Cecil took silver.


17. Finland and Sweden are the only countries in the world that have earned a medal at every Olympic game since 1908.


18. 7 of the first 8 Olympic Gold Medals in the hammer throw, were won by Irishmen born within a 30-mile radius of each other.


19. Some Koreans are trying to rename their country back to "Corea". They believe that Japan changed the spelling to "Korea" so Japanese athletes would march first at the 1908 Olympics.


20. By analyzing the faces of Olympic medalists after their events, a peer-reviewed study found that silver medalists feel worse, on average than bronze medalists. Silver medalists feel unlucky, while bronze medalists feel lucky.


21Kip Kieno

Kip Kieno

In 1968 Olympics, Kip "Kieno" was late for the 1500m final, because he was stuck in traffic. He ran 2 miles to make it to the event on time, and still won the gold. He was also suffering from gallstones.


22. Wladimir Klitschko auctioned off his 1996 Olympic gold medal in March 2012 for charity. The buyer paid $1 million but immediately returned it because he wanted it to stay in the family.


23. The host nation in the Olympics automatically qualifies for all events.


24. Dave Wottle is an American runner who won gold in the 800m race of the 1972 Olympics. He went from dead last to first in the final 200 meters, wearing a golf cap.


25. 28 countries boycotted the 1976 Olympic Games because New Zealand was allowed to compete.

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