The Olympics are almost upon us, and I’m sure everyone is excited (the Summer Olympics begin Friday, July 27, 2012, and end Sunday, August 12, 2012.). We think we know everything about the Olympic Games—yes, fastest 100m record holder is Usain Bolt. But do we really know everything about the Games? Here are seven strange and interesting Olympic facts.
- Mohandas Gandhi, Indian political and spiritual leader, once covered the 1932 Olympics hosted in Los Angeles as a newspaper reporter. Many, though, have questioned the credibility of this fact as Ghandi was still in prison by September of 1932. This makes it unlikely that he was at the Olympics as a newspaper reporter—but again, if it can’t be confirmed, it can’t be denied.
- The Olympic rings, originally designed in 1912 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, take into account every country in the world. At least one of the five colours on the Olympic rings—red, black, blue, yellow and green—appears in every country’s flag in the world. The five rings are also said to represent all the continents of the world; even though there are seven, the committee has divided the world into Asia, Africa, America, Europe, and Oceania
- Gold medals in the Olympics are not really made of real gold. The last Olympic medal to be made of pure gold was in 1912 in Sweden. All Games after that are made from silver and plated with a minimum of 6grams of gold.
- Silver medals were awarded for first place in the first Olympics. The Games hosted in Athens in 1896 awarded first place winners silver medals and second place bronze medals. Third place received nothing. Kind of harsh in my opinion, they could have at least gotten the dreadful ‘participation’ certificate. To make things even more absurd, the Games hosted in France in 1900 awarded winners paintings instead of gold medals. The French believed that paintings were more valuable than medals, and thus awarded winners according to what they deserved. For a second there, I thought I wanted a painting instead of a medal. Just for a second though.
- The first official suspension wasn’t until the 1968 Games in Mexico City. Swedish pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall was disqualified for his alcohol use. He reported that he had a couple beers to calm nerves before the pistol shooting session in the pentathlon. I guess he should have been more careful following the anti-doping regulations set in 1967.
- China didn’t win its first Olympic medal until 1984. It was Xu Haifeng from Fujian to break China’s bad run winning a gold medal in the 50 meter pistol event. Of course, the Chinese probably say history doesn’t matter—that it’s all about the now—which is understandable as they seem to win everything now.
- The longest Olympics lasted 187 days in London 1908. They started in April and continued on until October. What if it happens again this year? 187 days, being just a little more than 6 months, would mean the Games would go into January. Would it still be called London 2012 then? What about London 2012-13? Wait, what about the weather? …
Well there you go! And you thought you knew everything about the Olympics, right? Just another fact to end things: the youngest Olympian was Dimitrios Loundras, aged 10. The oldest was Oscar Swahn, aged 72. Yes, ten and seventy-two! Makes you wonder what you’ve accomplished in life, doesn’t it…
Sohaib writes for Taxi Advertising, who now has availability during the Olympic Games in London in 2012.