Fact of the Day
Poland's Halina Konopacka became the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in track and field when she broke her own world record with a throw of 39.62 metres to claim victory in the discus at Amsterdam 1928. She became a writer after retiring from athletics and was a published poet, whose work was praised for its feminist approach in analysing the relationship between the man and the woman.
Canadian show jumper Ian Millar holds the record for the most appearances at the Olympics. When he competed at London 2012 at the age of 65 it was his tenth appearance, 40 years after making his debut at Munich in 1972. Millar would have been making his 11th appearance but for Canada's boycott of Moscow in 1980. He won his only Olympic medal at Beijing in 2008, a silver in the team event, on In Style.
At Hungary's Olympic trials for Rome 1960, fencer Aladár Gerevich was told at 50 he was too old. He challenged the sabre team to matches, won every one and went onto win his sixth Olympic gold medal in the team event in the Italian capital, his first having come at Los Angeles 1932. He is the only athlete to win six Olympic titles in the same event and he has the longest gap between his first and last gold medal at 28 years.
American speed skater Charles Jewtraw was the first athlete to claim a gold medal at the Winter Olympics when he won the 500 metres at the opening event of the first Games at Chamonix 1924. His gold medal is now at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. He later worked with the Spalding Sports Good Company and was a bank security guard in New York City before retiring to Florida.
Lieutenant-General Sir Philip Neame is the only person to have won an Olympic gold medal and Victoria Cross, Britain's highest military award. In December 1914 in Neuve Chapelle, France, shortly after the start of World War One, as a member of the Royal Engineers he single-handedly delayed a German enemy advance using "jam tin" hand grenades and received the Victoria Cross. Then at the 1924 Olympics in Paris he won a gold medal as a member of Britain's running deer team, a competition involving teams of four firing single shots, where a moving target simulated the animal.
Bolivia have been competing in the Olympics longer than any other country without winning a medal, having made their debut at Berlin in 1936. The South American country has sent athletes to compete in every Summer Games since Tokyo 1964, except when they participated in the American-led boycott of Moscow 1980. They have also taken part in the Winter Games on several occasions since Cortina d'Ampezzo in 1956, but not since Albertville 1992.
Czechoslovakian gymnast Věra Čáslavská won four gold medals at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City but afterwards was denied the right to travel, work and attend sporting events, forcing her retirement. It followed two incidents on the medal podium when she quietly turned her head down and away during the playing of the Soviet national anthem. The action was Čáslavská's silent protest against the recent invasion of Czechoslovakia and her actions made her a persona non grata in the new regime
The most successful athlete in the history of the Winter Olympics is Norwegian cross country skier Bjørn Dæhlie, who won a total of 12 medals between Albertville in 1992 and Nagano in 1998, eight gold and four silver. The next most successful athlete is also a Norwegian, Ole Einar Bjørndalen, who has so far won 11 medals in the biathlon, six gold, four silver and a bronze, since he made his Olympic debut at Nagano.
The highest goalscorer in an Olympic football tournament was Ferenc Bene, who scored 12 goals at Tokyo in 1964 when Hungary won the gold medal. He beat the record held by Sophus Nielsen, who scored 11 goals for Denmark at London 1908, including 10 in their 17-1 victory in the semi-final against France.
The first Chinese competitor to win an Olympic gold medal was Xu Haifeng, who claimed victory in the 50 metre pistol event at Los Angeles in 1984. His achievement was recognised at Beijing in 2008 when Xu was the first torchbearer to bring the Olympic Torch into the National Stadium near the end of the Opening Ceremony.
Estonia's Kristjan Palusalu became the only wrestler in Olympic history ever to win both the Greco-Roman and freestyle heavy weight events at Berlin in 1936. A third of the inhabitants of the capital Tallinn turned out to greet him upon his return and the Estonian Government gave him a farm as a reward. It was the last time Estonia were to compete as an independent country in the Olympics until Barcelona in 1992 as they competed under the Soviet Union banner.
London in 1948 was the first Olympics to have a political defection when Marie Provaznikova, the 57-year old leader of the Czechoslovakia women's athletics team, refused to return home, citing "lack of freedom" after the country's inclusion in the Soviet Bloc.
Rower Henry Pearce won the Olympic gold medal in the single sculls at Amsterdam in 1928 despite nearly having his race in the quarter-final against France's Victor Saurin ruined when a family of ducks passed single-file in front of his boat. The Australian let them pass before continuing to scull to a popular victory. Pearce retained his title in Los Angeles in 1932.
An event called Semaine des Sports d'Hiver ("Week of Winter Sports") was held in association with the Paris 1924 Summer Olympics, taking place in Mont Blanc in Chamonix between January 25 and February 5. They were later designated by the International Olympic Committee as the first Olympic Winter Games. The Winter Olympics would continue to be held in the same year as the Summer Games until 1994.
America's Irish-born Matt McGrath won the Olympic hammer title at Stockholm in 1912 in such dominating fashion that the shortest of his six throws was over 4.5 metres longer than any other competitor and set a record that stood for 24 years. He also won silver medals at London in 1908 and Paris 1924. In 2002, Nenagh in County Tipperary erected a statue in the town square honouring the achievement.