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20 Rare Historical Facts about Olympic Games That You Never Knew

16. In the 1968 Olympics, Bob Beamon’s long jump went beyond the range of the official optical measuring device. The distance had to be measured manually and being unfamiliar with the metric system, he didn’t realize until his coach told him that he had broken the world record by nearly 2 feet. 

Bob Beamon
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bob Beamon’s world record was so outstanding that it wasn’t broken for almost 23 years. Mike Powell broke the record by around 5 centimeters at 8.95 meter record, Beamon’s being 8.90 meters. After his record, the sports jargon had a new adjective “Beamonesque” added to describe spectacular feats during the games.(source)


17. The 1964 Olympic champion, Ewa Kłobukowska, who set three world records for sprinting, was banned from competing in professional sports and her records annulled because she failed a gender verification test. A year later, she gave birth to her first child. 

Ewa Kłobukowska
Image Source: societyandgenetics, genderverification

Ewa Kłobukowska had a rare genetic anomaly called Barr Body which causes an inactive X chromosome. Gender verifications were done to ensure that no male imposter gets to win because of unfair advantage in women’s competitions. The test was also widely criticized for being only directed at female athletes and the humiliation it caused them. The incident with Kłobukowska’s tests caused the International Olympic Committee to change the gender verification policies. From then on, the test results were kept secret.(source)


18. In the 1936 Summer Olympics, Liechtenstein and Haiti competed against each other only to find out that they developed identical national flags independently of each other. 

Liechtenstein and Haiti Flags
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Commons

The flag of Liechtenstein has two colors, blue and red, in horizontal bands, which is the same for Haiti. The coat of arms that Haiti uses on its flag is just for national and military purposes, that meant their flags were as good as the same at the competition. After the event, Liechtenstein added a crown to its flag.(source)


19. In 1928, Australian sculler Bobby Pearce stopped to let a family of ducks pass that strayed into his lane. Despite that, he won all the competitions in that round with the fastest time. 

Bobby Pearce
Image Source: heraldsun

Henry Pearce won all the races he participated in easily defeating his first opponent by 12 lengths and his second by 8 lengths. He went on to defeat all his opponents, finally winning the gold medal and becoming the first Australian to do so. He even broke the record by being 25 seconds faster than the previous record.(source)

20. During the marathon of the 1904 Olympics, one participant took a lift in a car; the one who finished first took rat poison as a nerve stimulant and almost died; one took ill after eating rotten apples, had to take a nap and yet came fourth; and one was chased for a mile by aggressive dogs.

Marathon of 1904 Olympics
Image Source: elperiodico

To be fair to the participants, the day was very hot and the marathon was conducted over uneven roads with dust in the air when horses and automobiles passed. The participant who took the car after nine miles into the marathon re-entered the race when the car broke down after 19 miles. He just let the judges think he won the race, enjoying his practical joke, until they found out at the medal ceremony. The winner of the marathon, Hicks, had to be supported by his trainers as he got to the finish line because of the rat poison.(source)


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