Post-Olympics Depression: Olympic Trivia

Amelia Phillips

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Well, I recently caught up with David Holmes, lecturer of sports history at the University of NSW. Here’s some interesting Olympic snippets to keep those blues at bay:

    1. What were the main sports in the original Olympics and when did the Olympics start? The main sports were running (200m, 400m,4.5km); throwing/jumping events (javelin, discuss, long jump); combat sports (boxing, wrestling, pankration); there were also chariot races. There were no team, ball or aquatic sports and women were not allowed to participate.  The original Olympics officially commenced in 776 BC and were held every four years; they were banned by the Christian Emperor Theodosius I in 393 AD because he didn’t like the fact that the Games were held in honour of the Greek Gods.
    2. What was the most obscure sport played in the ancient Olympics?  Today? Ancient times: Pankration introduced in 648 BC. This event was a combination of boxing and wrestling but far more brutal. You were allowed to do anything to your opponent except bite and eye gouge. Given also that there were also no weight divisions, there were a number of homicides. Modern times: I would probably say live pigeon shooting, an event contested during the early modern Olympics.
    3. When were women allowed to compete in the Olympics? From 1900 where 19 women initially competed.
    4. What’s the funniest Olympic moment you know of? Probably during the marathon at the 1904 Olympics. The first man back, Fred Lorz (USA) , had received a long lift in a car when he started suffering cramps. The car then stopped at the stadium where Lorz resumed  running to the finishing line. At least he was disqualified.
    5. What’s your favorite Olympic moment? Haile Gebreselassie’s 10 000 m victory in the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
    6. Has the Olympics ever been cancelled? Yes 1916 (Berlin), 1940 (Tokyo), 1944 (London) all due to war.
    7. Which sport has the fittest Athletes? They are all supremely fit though track athletes are among the fittest.
    8. Which country is deemed the most successful during the past 20 years? The United States.
    9. How tough are the Chinese on their athletes? Extremely tough; there are many cases, for example, of younger athletes not being allowed to contact their immediate family whilst training for the Olympics.
    10. In your opinion how rife is drug taking in the Olympics these days? It is less rife than it was in the 1970s and 1980s. Testing these days is more sophisticated and reliable; athletes are also tested much more often and the penalties for doping are much more severe.
    11. What sport would you like to see in the Olympics? I would like to see Tug of War reinstated as an Olympic event. This was contested at five early Olympics (1900-1920) and is the ultimate nation/nation face-off(it even has the word ‘war’ in the title!

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2 responses to “Post-Olympics Depression: Olympic Trivia”

  1. Tom Parker says:

    Wow. Some interesting facts. Never read about Fred Lorz before but hey…you’ve got to give him some credit for trying something that cheeky 🙂

  2. Hi Tom,
    Yeah, sometimes I wish we had some more eccentric athletes but to get to the top I think all the personality bumps need to be ironed out!

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