Olympic history and our story

Many interesting tidbits from the Games

Chennai: The quadrennial fever of newspapers describing the Olympics as ‘quadrennial fever’ has set in.

To keep up with the spirit of the occasion, we at Crank’s News have dug up some interesting nugget of trivia from our Olympian memory.

# Ancient Olympics began in 776 BC, and in the early Games only men were allowed to compete, which they did totally in the nude. ‘The tradition of nude Games continued till it became too chaotic and confusing in the relay competitions during the baton exchange,’ according to one of the earliest recorded accounts of the events. NO. Wrestling, as an event, was introduced only in modern times.

# One of the showpiece events at the Ancient Games was the chariot race in which the owner of the chariot, not its rider, was considered the competitor. Yes, you are right: This was patented and later acquired by the Kolkata Knight Riders.

# The Ancient Games, after having an eventful run, however, folded due to many reasons. One among them is believed to be the absolute lack of television audience. It’s only after this fiasco that the brain trusts of international sporting events got together and came to the far-reaching conclusion that the best way to build up dedicated television audience would be to invent television first.

# The modern Olympic Games, under the auspices of IOC, began in 1896 at Athens with 14 nations and around 240 athletes participating. India had a lone representative in the form of a technical observer. No prizes for guessing that it was Suresh Kalmadi’s great grandfather.

# In the 1900 Paris Olympics, cricket was one of the events, and the hosts France, which has no big tradition in cricket, ended up in the second spot. They pulled off this historic coup by the simple, yet powerful, game strategy of limiting the entry to two teams. ‘A team from Great Britain’ emerged victorious. Interestingly, it was given only the silver medals, while the French were awarded the bronze. So who got the gold? Of course, it went to CSK.

# At the 1924 Paris Games, the administrators had a marvelous brainwave. They arrived at the conclusion that for the Olympics to fully take off across continents it needed an inspiring motto. And they went with Citius. Altius. Fortius. It was in Latin.  Pierre de Coubertin, the man considered to be the father of modern Olympics had the most sensible explanation for it. ‘Latin unites the entire population of the world. In that it is the only language in the world that no one speaks anymore’.

#It was in the 1920 Antwerp Games that the iconic ‘Five Rings’ was incorporated as the Olympic symbol with the noble intention of boring every Olympic quiz competition with the question: What colours make up the Olympic Rings and what do they signify? (Ans: All of them are pale blue, as they are mostly seen through the Oakley coolers by the athletes. The five rings together stand for the medals that India has won in athletics at the Olympics so far).

# The 1968 Olympics was eventful for the Indian hockey team. The team came up with the most inventive game plan for the high altitude of Mexico: It played two captains in the same playing XI. ‘The opposing teams were quite shaken by India’s cunning ploy. They were a confused lot right from the toss,’ wrote veteran hockey correspondent S Thyageshwaran. But India still could not win the Gold. Why? While India did manage to pack the team with two captains, in their over-eagerness they, however, forgot to name even a single goalkeeper in the team. ‘This, on reflection, proved to be a wrong tactic,’ he wrote.

# The 1972 Munich Olympics will go down in the history for the sensational world record run in 400m hurdles by Uganda’s John Akii Bua. He was drawn in an inside lane. He was running into a headwind. ‘But what made his performance one of the best ever in the annals of Olympics is the fact Bua manfully overcame the challenge posed by the adjoining ‘i’s in his name. It’s a feat that conceivably can’t be matched. We mean, no man in the history of sports can come up with consecutive ‘i’s in his name,’ the Sports Illustrated later wrote in its tribute.

# The 1976 Montreal Olympics was spectacular and stunning on many fronts. But the real wondrous performance came from the East German rowers’ in the coxless fours event. They emerged out of the waters with a gold medal secured in world record time. It was suspected that their rowers may have used performance enhancing steroids. But much later, when the country’s Communist regime fell and the secrets of their Olympic conquests tumbled out, the rowing coach revealed: ‘Our rowers were certainly not on drugs. We just used a turbocharged motorboat for the event’.

# The British hulk Daley Thompson won back to back to Golds in the 80 and 84 Games in the gruelling event of decathlon. A major kerfuffle broke out after some British tabloid managed to scoop a secret test report which clearly established te hat ‘Daley Thompson’ anagrammed to ‘Sly Dope A Month’. But WADA is still to ratify the findings.

# At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Chinese table tennis player Jing Hao Hoo became the youngest one to win an Olympic medal. Jing Hao Hoo’s mother Jing Hoo Hao won the silver at the doubles event. ‘She was 4 months pregnant with Jing Hao Hoo, which technically qualifies her as the youngest medallist,’ the IOC clarified later.

# The 1996 Olympics at Atlanta, which is the headquarters to many corporates, was a precision event with rules and regulations strictly adhered to. A highlight of the Games was the sensational stripping of the gold medal (in Team Trials Cycling) from Franklin Thomson of Canada after he flunked urine test. ‘It is shocking to know that Franklin’s urine was found to contain traces of the banned substance, Pepsi. This is in clear violation of the spirit of the Games, sponsored majorly by Coca Cola’, the Georgia Gazette recorded in an impassioned editorial.

# The mascot of the 2008 Beijing Games, Fuwa, ‘embodied the natural characteristics of four of China’s most popular animals —- the fish, the Panda, the Tibetan Antelope, the Swallow.’ The Games brochure helpfully said: ‘All these four shared one ancient Chinese virtue of being tasty when cooked’.

(Disclaimer: The Joke Olympics credo is: Reading a spoof is not important. Laughing is)