Fact of the Day
Legendary Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby coached Britain's football team at the 1948 Olympics in London. Sir Matt's side, which was drawn from all four Home Countries, reached the semi-finals before losing to Yugoslavia. They were then beaten 5-3 by Denmark in the bronze medal playoff, the closest Britain have come to winning an Olympic football medal since claiming gold at Stockholm in 1912.
Britain's 100 metres runner Allan Wells never used starting blocks until a rule change forced him to do so for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. He overcame that, however, to beat the pre-race favourite, Cuba's Silvio Leonard, by just three inches in a photo-finish to win the gold medal in a time of 10.25. At the time, the 28-year-old Scot was the oldest Olympic 100m champion in history.
Four-time Olympic gold medallist Dawn Fraser accompanied International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch during part of the Opening Ceremony of Sydney 2000 because his wife was seriously ill and unable to travel to Australia. She then left him to carry the Olympic Torch at the Stadium, as one of the runners for the final segment, before the lighting of the Olympic Flame by Cathy Freeman.
Until the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, only commissioned military officers were permitted to compete in the equestrian disciplines, which also had the effect of restricting the sport to men only. In 1951, however, Olympic equestrianism was not only opened to civilian riders, but also became one of the very few sports in the Games in which men and women compete with and directly against one another.
Upton Park, one of 15 teams to play in the very first edition of the FA Cup, went on to represent Britain en masse at the 1900 Olympics football tournament in Paris, which they won, beating a USFSA XI representing France, 4-0. A gold medal was not awarded to the side at the time, but the International Olympic Committee have since retrospectively awarded one. The club went out of existence in 1911.
At the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Reebok had exclusive rights to produce warm-up outfits and other apparel for American athletes. But Michael Jordan and other members of the USA basketball team had contracts with Nike and refused to bare the Reebok logos when they accepted their gold medals. Jordan nealty avoided a row by covering the Reebok logo by draping himself in the red, white and blue of the American flag.
Motor racing was an unofficial sport at the 1900 Olympics in Paris. Fourteen events were contested in conjunction with the 1900 World's Fair. Entries were by manufacturers rather than drivers and competitors' names were not reported. The events were dominated by French cars as they won all 14 events and had a cleansweep in 12 of the them, with only the United States and Germany managing to scrape a bronze in two classes.
American sprinters Rey Robinson and Eddie Hart were favourites to win the 100 metres at the 1972 Olympics in Munich but both failed to turn up for their quarter-final races because their coach was using an outdated schedule to determine the starting time of their events and failed to deliver them to the track on time.
The track and field events during the 1900 Olympics in Paris were held at the Racing Club de France at the Croix-Catelan stadium in Bois de Boulogne. No track was laid and races took place on an uneven field of grass littered with trees. Additional events were held for professionals and a series of handicap races also took place. These are not considered official Olympic events.
The first black Africans to compete in the Olympics were Tswana tribesmen Len Tau and Yamasani, who ran in the marathon at St Louis in 1904. They had been brought over as part of the Boer War exhibit in the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, held alongside the Games. Tau finished ninth and Yamasani 12th. Tau would have done better if he had not been chased in the last mile by a pack of dogs.
A new medal obverse was introduced at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, replacing the design by Italian painter and sculptor Giuseppe Cassioli that had been used since the 1928 Games in Amsterdam. This rectified the long lasting mistake of using a depiction of the Roman Colosseum rather than a Greek venue. The new design featured the Panathinaiko Stadium, which hosted the first modern Olympics in 1896.
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge competed for Belgium in sailing in the 1968, 1972 and 1976 Games. He also played on the Belgian national rugby union team.
Britain's Don Thompson practised for the 50 kilometres walk at the 1960 Rome Olympics by training in a steam-filled bathroom at home, with the heating turned up and wearing a tracksuit. After a while, he would feel faint. He blamed his light-headedness on the effects of heat and humidity, but later realised it was carbon monoxide fumes from a paraffin heater. It did not affect him as he claimed gold.
Britain's Harold Abrahams, the Paris 1924 Olympic 100 metres champion immortalised in the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire, was one of the official timekeepers for Roger Bannister's historic sub four-minute mile at Oxford in 1954.
The first Brazilian Olympic gold medallist was Guilherme Paraense, an army lieutenant, who claimed victory in the 30m military pistol event at Antwerp in 1920, the year the country made its debut in the Games. He beat the American Raymond Bracken after the US team had given him a Colt pistol and ammunition to compete following the theft of this own equipment.