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Weird But True Olympic Stories: Things You Might Not Have Known About the Olympics

2012 will bring us another Olympic year and for sports fans and Olympic fans it is an exciting time. In the months to come we will see athletes training and preparing for their events and it is time to put down roots for your country and your favorite participants. In the spirit of the Olympics, here are some weird but true Olympic stories worth passing on.

Canadian Lucky Dollar– At the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Canadian hockey teams faced a real challenge. The odds were stacked against them, but early in the games it looked like they had a little better luck with them that day. Both men and women won their finals and it raised the question “Where did their luck come from?” After the ceremonies, the ice-making crew (Canadians themselves) admitted to burying a one-dollar coin under the center ice. This piece is now in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

A walk-in winner- What if you could casually join the Olympics today? Do you think you would go home with a suitcase full of medals? That’s what John Pius Boland of Ireland did in the first modern Olympics in 1896. He was orphaned at age 12, and his adoptive parents taught him how to play tennis. He and his buddy were playing recreationally and doing well when he decided to take part in the Games. He won the singles title and the doubles title.

The mysterious helmsman- At the Paris Olympics in 1900, the Dutch rowing team needed a coxswain to compete. The helmsman is a person (preferably short) who sits at the end of a rowboat and shouts “Row! Row! Row!” establish a rhythm with the rowers. The Dutch team took a little boy out of the crowd and chose him as coxswain. It was a very close race but the Dutch won, thanks in part to the loud cries of the little boy. He posed for the victory photo and then he disappeared. They never got to know his name or age and he was never seen again.

Missing medal of Muhammad Ali- The truth about what happened to Ali’s gold medal at the Rome Olympics in 1960 may never be known. The 18-year-old, then known by his birth name Cassius Clay, won boxing gold in what would start a famous career. At the time, however, he was not declared a hero. Racism was still rampant in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, and the original story said he was so tired of it that he threw his gold medal in the river. Divers looked for him but he was never found. Ali later said he may have misplaced the medal. Regardless of what happened to him, Olympic officials gave him a replacement at a ceremony in 1996.

What are some of your favorite Olympic stories or legends?

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