2012 will bring us another Olympics year and for sports fans and Olympic fans, this is an exciting time. In the months to come, we will see athletes training and preparing for their events and it’s time to root for your country and your favorite participants. In the spirit of the Olympics, here are some weird but true Olympic stories worth passing along.
Canada’s Lucky Loonie– In the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, the Canadian hockey teams were facing a real challenge. The odds were stacked against them but as the games began, it seemed they had an extra bit of luck with them that day. Both the men and the women won their finals and it begged the question “Where did their luck come from?” After the ceremonies, the ice-making crew (Canadians themselves) admitted that they had buried a one-dollar coin under center ice. That coin now sites in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
A Walk-On Winner- What if you could casually join the Olympic Games today? Do you think you’d return home with a suitcase full of medals? That’s what John Pius Boland of Ireland did in the first modern Olympic Games of 1896. He was an orphan at age 12 and his adoptive parents taught him to play tennis. He and his buddy had been playing recreationally and doing well when he decided he would enter the Games. He won the singles title and the doubles title.
The Mystery Coxswain- In the 1900 Paris Olympics, the Dutch rowing team needed a coxswain in order to compete. The Coxswain is a (preferably small) person who sits at the end of a rowing boat and yells “Row! Row! Row!” to establish a rhythm with the rowers. The Dutch team pulled a small looking boy from the crowd and chose him as their coxswain. It was a very close race but the Dutch won, partly thanks to the great yelling of the small boy. He posed for the victory photo and then he disappeared. They were never able to find out his name or age and he was never seen again.
Muhammad Ali’s Missing Medal- The truth of what happened to Ali’s gold medal from the 1960 Rome Olympics may never be known. The 18-year-old, then known by his birth name Cassius Clay, won the gold medal in boxing in what would begin a famous career. Back then, however, he was not declared a hero. Racism still ran rampant in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky and the original story said that he grew so tired of it, he threw his gold medal in the river. Divers searched for it but is has never been recovered. Ali later said that maybe he misplaced the medal. Regardless of what happened to it, Olympic officials gave him a replacement in a 1996 ceremony.
What are some of your favorite Olympic stories or legends?