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10 Fun Facts: Olympic Edition

Posted by: Magic 1278 | 24 July, 2012 - 11:21 AM
Fun Facts: Olympic Edition. Photo by Matt King/Getty Images.

If Olympic fever hasn't taken hold of you yet, these fun facts about the Summer Olympics will get you going...

Photo by Matt King/Getty Images

1.

The Olympics once lasted 187 days. In 1908, the London Olympics went on for 187 days starting in April and ending in October!

2.

There's a 62-year age difference between the oldest and youngest Olympians ever. The youngest Olympian ever was 10-year-old Dimitrios Loundras, a Greek gymnast in the 1896 Athens Olympics.  The oldest Olympian ever was Oscar Swahn, a Swedish shooter in the 1920 Antwerp, Belgium, Olympics. He was 72.

3.

Black athletes did not win the marathon until 1960. It's impossible to picture now, but a black athlete didn't win the marathon until Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia did it in 1960. And he did it barefoot.

4.

The only white person ever to run 100 metres in under 10 seconds is Christophe Lemaître who ran 9.98sec at the French national championships.  The headlines read: First white man to break the 10-second barrier. The current 100m outdoor world record is held by Usain Bolt - 9.58sec.

5.

Gold medals haven't been pure gold in 96 years. The 1912 Olympics was the last time that gold medals were solid gold. Ever since, they've been silver with gold plating.

6.

The top prize at the first modern Olympics was the silver medal.  In 1896 in Athens, first place winners got a silver medal and an olive branch. Second place got a bronze. Third place got nothing!  In 1900, in France, winners got paintings instead of gold medals. Gold, silver and bronze medals weren't given out until the third modern Olympics, in 1904. The French gave the winners paintings because they believed they were more valuable.

7.

The first Olympic drug suspension wasn't until 1968 at the Mexico City games.  Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall, a Swedish pentathlete, was suspended because he tested positive for a banned substance: Alcohol. He drank several beers before the pentathlon which was against the rules so he was suspended.

8.

China didn't win its first medal until 1984. It's hard to believe now, since China seems to be a medal-winning monolith. Xu Haifeng won gold in the 50 meter pistol event.

9.

Gandhi once covered the Olympics as a newspaper reporter. It was at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles!

10.

The five colours of the Olympic rings cover every flag in the world - yellow, green, red, black and blue. The five rings are supposed to represent the 5 continent in the world.  But there are 7 continents I hear you say?  Well the International Olympic Committee condensed the world into five continents: America, Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceania. Sorry, Antarctica.

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