Olympics Strange Facts
Our top strangest facts about the Olympic Games across the ages. You’ll be surprised!
Truth is stranger than fiction, or so they say. Here are some of our favourite strange but true Olympics facts to get you in the mood for London 2012:
- The torch relay is not part of the ancient Olympics tradition, but was invented by Carl Diem for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. However, the lighting of the Olympic flame comes from the original Games. Women wearing historic-style robes, using a curved mirror and the light of the sun, ignite the flame at the ancient site of Olympia, before the torch starts its journey
- The modern Olympic marathon is 41 kilometres and 352 metres long. The original 41-kilometre race was lengthened at the 1908 London Olympics, when organisers realised that the finish line was not in front of the royal box, 352 metres down the track. Athletes have had to run the extra distance ever since!
- The youngest Olympian ever was a 7-year-old French boy who was a last-minute recruit to the Dutch team that won the coxed pairs rowing race in 1900 in Paris. His name was never recorded as he became bored waiting for his medal and wandered off
- The oldest male Winter Olympics medal winner was 83-year-old Anders Haugen, who received his ski jump bronze medal in 1974, 50 years late, after a scoring error was discovered
- The first Olympics drug disqualification was at the Mexico City games in 1968, when Swedish pentathlete, Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall, was disqualified after his race because he was drunk. He had had a couple of beers before the starter’s gun to calm his nerves
- According to sources, the Paris games of 1900 were host to the strangest event ever held at an Olympics - poodle-clipping. A farmer’s wife clipped 17 poodles in 2 hours to win the gold.
- The expected number of meals to be sold at the London 2012 Olympics is 18 million
- Judging by the pictures of the time, the original Olympics were conducted naked. For this reason, married women were not allowed to view the Games on pain of death
- American George Eyser won six medals in the 1904 Olympics gymnastics events (three gold, two silver and a bronze), including one for rope climbing, despite having a wooden leg
- In 1928, Australian rower Henry Pearce stopped halfway through his quarter-final race to let a family of ducks swim by. He managed to catch up with the competition afterwards and win the gold
- The 2008 Beijing Olympics began at exactly 8:08:08 PM on 8/8/08 following the ancient Chinese belief that the number 8 is lucky