This year’s Olympic Games will be held in Japan amid the COVID situation. The tournament will be held from the 23rd of July to 8th of August in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. The Olympic Games are considered to be the most spectacular and the biggest sports festival in the world.

The modern Olympic Games, which began in Athens, Greece in 1896, are now held every four years. Looking back at the history of this sporting event, which is being held in a grand manner with the participation of many countries, there are many unforgettable incidents many people don’t know about. Here are some of the interesting incidents we found to be interesting:

1) Spanish meal destroys a Gold medal dream!

Michael Johnson of the United States, a short-distance running champion who colored the world athletics arena in the 90s, represented the 200 m and 400 m events. Johnson, who excelled in athletics at the time, once held the world record in both the 200 m and 400 m events. He became a superstar and won the attention of everyone for the first time at the 1991 World Athletics Championships.

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Michael Johnson setting the 200m world record at that period!
Photo: https://usopm.org/michael-johnson/

In the 1991 World Athletics Championship which was held in Tokyo, he won the Gold medal defeating Frank Predix of Namibia in the 200m event. Johnson finished the race in 20.01 seconds, setting a new world record. Therefore, many speculated that he would also win the 200 m event at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Johnson also wanted to win the Olympic gold medal.

The preliminary round and semi-finals of the 200-meter event at the Barcelona Olympics took place on August 3, 1992. Johnson, who competed brilliantly there, easily qualified for the semi-finals. The semi-finals were scheduled for 5th of August. The morning before, Johnson had a stomach ache from a Spanish meal.

So Johnson was not in good health when he played in the semi-finals. Therefore, Johnson entered the match with great difficulty and finished 6th in the semi – finals. It should be noted here that although he lost the gold medal due to a Spanish meal that day, he won the 200 m event with a world record at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

2) Accidental Olympic gold medal?

Zimbabwe has managed to win only three gold, four silver and one bronze medals in the long history of the Olympic Games. You would be surprised to hear that they inherited their first Olympic medal by accident. The whole world of sports was shaken by that unexpected event that took place at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Opening ceremony of the 1980 Olympic Games
Opening ceremony of the 1980 Olympic Games
Photo: Commons:RIA Novosti

Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in late 1979. In protest, the United States and other Western nations called on the Olympic Committee not to allow Soviet Russia to host the Olympics games. Despite the protests, the Olympic committee decided to host the Olympic Games in Moscow.

The United States and another 64 nations were so disappointed with the decision and they decided not to participate in the Moscow Olympic Games. This is still considered the largest boycott in the history of the Olympic movement.

With that, the number of teams participating in certain events was minimal. As a result, only five teams were scheduled to compete in the women’s hockey tournament. So about 35 days before the start of the Olympics, the Olympic organizers invited several more countries to participate in the women’s hockey tournament.

Many countries declined the invitation as there was no preparation for the tournament at that time. Zimbabwe accepted the invitation and decided to send a women’s hockey team for the Olympics. It was the first time Zimbabwe had represented the country at an Olympic Games since the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

The Zimbabwean sports authorities, who had casually selected a women’s hockey team after the sudden invitation, soon began training. The Zimbabwean players who trained with minimal facilities did not even get a chance to play on an artificial hockey field before the Olympics.

Suddenly, the Zimbabwean players had to compete with India, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Soviet Russia. Unexpectedly, the Zimbabwean cricketers defeated Poland 4-0, Soviet Russia 2-0, Austria 4-1, India 1-1 and Czechoslovakia 2-2. The Zimbabwean women’s hockey team gathered eight bonus points which eventually led to Zimbabwe’s  first ever Olympic Gold Medal. It was truly a huge moment for the Zimbabwe’s Olympic team!

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Women’s field hockey team of Zimbabwe was the 1980 Summer Olympics champion.
Photo: Commons:RIA Novosti

3) Selection committee’s biggest Jump!

Russia’s high jump selection competition for the 2008 Beijing Olympics was in full swing. Andrei Silnov, who had high hopes for the selection committee, finished fourth in that competition. Silnov did not qualify for the Olympics, as only three athletes from one country can usually compete in the Olympics. Anyway, Silnov had shown some exceptional talent in previous matches. Focusing on that, the Russian Olympic selection committee decided to include  Silnov 

in the high jump event at the Olympics. That was a huge and risky decision for the committee to make since if Silnov doesn’t perform as good as they expected, they will be blamed for their decision. 

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Russian high-jumper Andrei Silnov in 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Photo by Sherman Wang

In the preliminary round of the Beijing Olympics, Silnov easily qualified for the finals by jumping 2.29 m. Silnov, who competed brilliantly from the start in the final, also easily cleared the height of 2.34 meters. It was remarkable to watch his jumps as he jumped every height on the first try.

At the final stage, only Silonov of Russia, Mason of Great Britain and Rybakov of Russia had cleared the 2.34 meter height. So, the next height for the three of them was 2.36 meters. Silnov made a great jump, clearing 2.36 meter height on the first try. The other two players could not cross the line. As a result, Andrei Silnov won the gold medal.

And the Selection committee’s biggest jump was a success!

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Andrey Silnov in 2018
Photo by © A.Savin, WikiCommons

4) Penalty for getting in a car!!

The 1904 Olympic Games were held in St. Lucia, USA. The marathon of that tournament was like running through hell!! It started on August 30 at around 3 pm. The road prepared for the marathon at that time was very difficult. Also that evening the temperature in that area was high.

At the end of the first hour of the event, which started in such an extreme environment, several players fell ill. William Garcia, an American athlete, was found lying in a corner of the road in a critical condition, and would have died if he had been hospitalized too late. John Lawden and Sam Mellor, two American athletes, also fell seriously ill. And a funny(sad) fact is several dogs chased Len Tao, a South African athlete, for a considerable distance.

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Fred Lorz, an American athlete who competed in the event, also ran with difficulty after traveling considerable distances. But he decided to cheat when he saw a vehicle(a car)  travelling towards the end of the race. He got in that car and traveled a distance of 17 km! Anyway, near the end, he got out of the car and started running as usual. Lawrence, who completed the marathon illegally, arrived at the Olympic Stadium at the end of 3 hours and 13 minutes. At that moment, the cheers of the Americans echoed throughout the stadium.

Anyway a man came to the stadium and said that Lorz had gotten into a car and traveled quite a distance. Also, this was confirmed by American Thomas Hicks, who finished the race in 3 hours and 28 seconds. Out of 33 marathon runners at the time, only 14 had completed the race. Therefore, the Olympics organizers decided to give a memorable punishment for the fraud he had committed. As a result, Fred Lorz was banned for life from his event. Following an appeal, the ban was lifted later. Although the ban was lifted, he was unable to compete any longer since he died of pneumonia in 1914.

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Frederick Lorz at the 1904 Olympics

Guess you never heard of these stories ever before!

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