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The strangest things to happen at the Olympics

23rd July 2012

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ringsIn just four days time, over 10, 000 athletes will converge in London in their bid to be crowned Olympic Champion. But with the rest of the world keenly watching, nothing is likely to go unnoticed. In anticipation, we count down the 5 most bizarre stories from the Olympics’ history. 

1912, Stockholm

Marathons are hard-going at the best of times. But in the blistering summer heat of Stockholm, only half of the runners completed the race. One man died, whilst another became ‘the missing Japanese’ as he just seemingly disappeared. In reality, Shizo Kanaguri had wandered off the course in a daze and ended up in someone’s garden. They gave him some juice and put him to bed, but when he awoke he felt so embarrassed that he travelled back to Japan in secret. When he eventually revealed his story, Kanaguri was invited back to Sweden to finish the race in an impressive time of 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 5 hours and 32 minutes.   

1928, Amsterdam. 

You’ve got to mind where you’re going in Amsterdam, for fear of running into any Dutch cyclists. However rower Henry Pearce faced a very different problem whilst participating in the quarter finals of the single sculls. He noticed that a family of ducks were swimming along in his lane and so he politely stopped and waited for them to cross. Luckily, the Australian was so far in front of the other competitors that he was able to indulge in this little display of courtesy and still managed to win the race by 20 lengths. Minus any duck drama, he eventually won the final too, becoming Australia’s sole gold medallist at these Games. 

1964, Tokyo

Controversy and mystery surrounds Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser, who won four gold medals at three consecutive Olympic Games. In Tokyo, she was given a 10-year ban, which actually only lasted for four years. But what was the ban for? No answer has really been given, as the swimmer took part in several rebellious activities at the time. She marched in the Opening Ceremony without permission, wore the wrong type of swimsuit in the semi-final and got arrested for stealing a flag from the Emperor’s Imperial Palace. She was soon let off for her drunken misdemeanours and even got to keep the flag as a souvenir. 

1984, Los Angeles

McDonalds is proudly sponsoring the Games this year, which is surprising given that it lost millions back in 1984. Customers were asked to match a scratch card with an event on it to an American medal winner. This ingenious idea meant that I could treat myself to a free Big Mac if I had the basketball card and the USA won the competition. However the fast-food chain failed to take the tense political climate into account. In the same way that America boycotted the Moscow Games in 1980, the Communist bloc refused to participate in the Games four years later. McDonalds ran with the slogan ‘When the US wins, you win’ but to their horror, the US won an awful lot and obtained 83 gold medals instead of the expected 34. 

2012, London

We’re used to hearing about the lavish and faintly ridiculous freebies that celebrities receive at awards shows. But did you know that athletes get free condoms? Durex will give out 150,000 freebies to athletes competing in London due to the high testosterone levels which undoubtedly emerge in a place full of athletic and fit men and women. The need has grown since 2000, when competitors in Athens got through all of the 70,000 condoms. Now with the increase in numbers, athletes will be able to take advantage of Durex’s generosity an average of 15 times during the fortnight.  

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