1. When the Olympics were held in Tokyo in 1964, the winners were each given a gold-plated bonsai tree instead of a medal.
2. More athletes than spectators attended the 1900 Olympic Games.
3. In 1924, Paavo Nurmi of Finland, won five gold medals. Two of these were in the 1500 metres and 5,000 metres in the space of just one hour. This meant he had just 26 minutes' rest between the end of the first final and the beginning of the next.
4. For any track event there has to be a minimum of four competitors taking part for medals to be awarded.
5. The Australian Henry Pearce was competing in the single scull rowing event at the 1928 Olympics and was leading when a duck and her ducklings came into view on a collision course. Pearce had a choice: carry on rowing and kill a couple of ducklings or pull in his oars and let them pass. He chose the latter and yet still went on to win the race.
6. The Italian Abdon Pamich won gold for the 50 kilometres walk in the 1964 Games but only after stopping at 38 kms to throw up.
7. The 1500 metres is the only track or field event in which a men’s world record has never been set during the Olympic Games.
8. Harold Abrahams had been selected for the 100 metres, 200 metres and the 4x100 metres relay for the 1924 Olympic Games when, a month before the Games, he broke the English long jump record and was duly selected for the event. An anonymous letter then appeared in the Daily Express criticising the selection of Abrahams in the long jump. Its author was Abrahams himself, who managed to withdraw from the event.
9. A semi-final wrestling bout in the 1912 Olympic lasted a staggering THREE hours. The winner, an Estonian named Martin Klein, was so exhausted that, understandably, he couldn’t take part in the final match the next day.
10. Women took part in the original 776 BC Olympics but were banned thereafter.
11. Stanislawa Walasiewicz - or Stella Walsh as she was known in her adopted country of America - ran the 100 metres in 1932 and in 1936 for her native Poland but only because the U.S. couldn’t support her financially. However, when the athlete was shot dead in Cleveland in 1980, the autopsy revealed that she was actually... a man.
12. Grace Kelly's father, John Kelly, competed in the rowing in the 1920 Games in Antwerp.
13. The US diver, Harry Prieste, won the bronze medal in the platform diving at the 1920 Games in Antwerp. He then lived for more than another eighty years – dying in 2001 at the age of 104.
14. Geena Davis competed in the US Women’s Olympic Archery team at the 2000 Olympics.
15. In the final of the 1932 3000 metres steeplechase, Volmari Iso-Hollo of Finland crossed the finishing line with a 40-metre lead. But because the lap checker had forgotten to change the lap counter after the first lap, there was no tape on the line and the lap counter read ‘1’. So Iso-Hollo set off on another lap and duly won the race by 75 metres in a race which was, by default, extended to 3400 metres.
16. Rolf Harris swam the backstroke for Australia in the 1948 London Olympics.
17. With 2,296 medals (929 gold), the U.S. easily holds the record for the most medals in the Summer Olympics with more than double the medals of their nearest competitor (the old Soviet Union).
18. Because of the outbreak of major world wars, the modern Olympics did not hold competitions in 1916, 1940, and 1944. The 1916 Games would have been held in Moscow. 1940 would have been Rome and 1944 would have been Budapest.
19. In 1976, women were required to have a test to establish that they were indeed ‘real’ women. The only female competitor not to have to submit to a sex test at the 1976 Games was Princess Anne (now the Princess Royal).
20. The 1924 games were originally planned to take place in Amsterdam but they were moved to Paris at the urging of Baron de Coubertin because he was about to retire and wanted to see them in his homeland one last time.
21. In the 1904 marathon, the American runner, Fred Lorz, dropped out after nine miles and was given a lift back to the stadium by his manager. When he was seen trotting over the finish line (to retrieve his clothes), the officials thought he had won the race. Lorz played along with it until he was found out shortly after the medal ceremony.
1. FALSE. However, when the Olympics were held in France, in 1900, the winners were given a valuable piece of art instead of a medal.
3. TRUE. Nurmi was a brilliant athlete who won a total of nine gold and three silver medals in the 12 events in which he competed at the Olympic Games of 1920, 1924 and 1928. He would have competed in 1932 but as he had received money for his running, he was considered a professional and was therefore banned.
4. FALSE. Consider the following story. In 1908, Wyndham Halswelle, a British veteran of the Boer War, became the only Olympian to win a gold medal (400 metres) without any opponents. In the first, void race, Halswelle was obstructed by Carpenter, an American who crossed the line first but was disqualified. Carpenter’s American team mates refused to take part in the re-run and so Halswelle ran a solo race.
7. FALSE. The discus is the only track and field event in which a men’s world record has never been set during the Olympic Games.
9. FALSE. All the details are correct except that it didn’t last three hours but eleven!
10. FALSE. Women were never allowed to compete in the Ancient Olympics. In fact, if a woman watched even one Olympic event in ancient Greece, she could be executed. Women were also not allowed to compete in the first modern Olympics. They first competed at the 1900 Paris Games where eleven women were allowed to take part in lawn tennis and golf.
14. FALSE. However Geena Davis did make the qualifying rounds for the US Women’s Olympic Archery team for the 2000 Olympics.
16. FALSE. However Rolf Harris was Junior Backstroke Champion of all Australia in 1946 and narrowly missed being selected for the 1948 London Olympics.
17. TRUE. Great Britain comes a (respectable) third.
18. FALSE. The 1916 Games would have been held in Berlin. 1940 would have been Tokyo but they pulled out to be replaced by Helsinki (though, in the event, they didn’t take place there either). 1944 would have been London; it wasn’t and so London hosted the Games in 1948 instead.
21. TRUE. He was banned for a year.