Olympic trivia…

Aug 7, 2012 | Musings

After that incredible weekend, and more excitement still to come, I’m sticking with my Olympic theme today, with some quirky facts courtesy of The Mirror.

There have been a variety of weird and wonderful Olympic mascots over the years, the 2012 ones being no exception. The first, and one of the most popular, however, was Waldi The Dachshund (see left!), created for the 1972 Munich Games. So popular was Waldi, in fact, that the 1972 Marathon route was arranged in the shape of his body.

How about this one for tenacity: Hungarian pistol shooter Karoly Takacs was unable to compete in 1936 due to rules of rank (he was an Army sergeant, not an officer) and then, when the rules had changed, had his shooting (right) hand maimed during military training. Not one to give up easily(?!), he learned to shoot left-handed and got not one but two Olympic golds in 1948 and 1952. Tough these Hungarians!

We don’t have any Aussies in the office but I’ve been there, and we have a lot of ducks in Cambridge, so with that tenuous link – Australia’s Henry Pearce stopped rowing in his 1928 Amsterdam games quarter-final to allow a family of ducks to pass safely in front of his boat. He still won the heat and took gold in the final.

After my journey home in the driving rain last night, this one caught my eye: bad weather meant the final two events in the London 1948 London Olympics were held at dusk, with athletes illuminated by car headlights. Just need a family sitting in the car eating ice cream cones and you’ve got a typical English summer scene…

And now to matters equestrian – I have been idly wondering if the horses also get medals, so I like the fact that events at the 1900 Paris Games included long jump and high jump for, wait for it… horses!

This year’s strict branding rules apparently are nothing new: Ethiopia’s Abebe Biikila ran and won the 1960 Rome marathon barefoot because no pair of running shoes from official manufacturers Adidas could be found to fit. Other brands of running shoe are available but not, apparently, in Rome in 1960.

And finally, most of today’s athletes follow a strict diet and are very careful what they eat (at least until after their event!), but before the Olympics in ancient Greece athletes mostly ate cheese. And why not…

Thanks to The Mirror for these and lots of other amazing Olympics trivia – read more here.