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Athens 1896-London 2012 – Olympic Surprises
Australia and Oceania
Did you know… Between 1960 and 1971, Ron Clarke (Australia) set 19 world records in the 5,000m, 10,000m and other long-distance races. Unfortunately, Ron never won an Olympic gold medal. In the mid-1960s he said: “The effort is not continuous as it must be in a race. By doing fast cycle times and then allowing time to recover, the athlete is deceiving himself as to his fitness.” He is the author of two books: “The Unforgiving Minute” (1966) and “The Lonely Breed” (1967).
United States of America
Did you know… The state of Hawaii has won ten gold medals at the Summer Olympics (1896-2008). It has more Olympic gold medals than Thailand, Venezuela and Lithuania. Olympic champions are: Tommy Kono (weightlifting / two golds, 1952 and 1956), Warren Kealoha (swimming / two golds, 1920 and 1924), Duke Paoa Kahanamouku (water / three golds, 1912 and 1920), Brmoryan Ezrala Ts (1912 and 1920) athletics/ one gold medal, 2008), Buster Crabbe (swimming/ one gold medal, 1932), Herman Ronald Frazier (athletics/ one gold medal, 1976).
At the 1980 Winter Olympics in New York, the United States men’s ice hockey team won the gold medal. During the final match, Team USA scored a major upset over the Soviet Union (or USSR), who had won gold medals in Austria ’64, France ’68, Japan ’72 and Austria ’76.
American boxer Muhammad Ali—formerly known as Cassius Clay—failed in his trials at the 1959 Pan American Games, but won the light heavyweight (81 kg/178 lb) gold medal at the XVII Olympiad in Italy in 1960.
Did you know… The Uruguayan men’s basketball team qualified to represent the Western Hemisphere at the XXIII. Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984. A year ago, Uruguay did not participate in the Pan American Games in Venezuela.
At the 1976 Montreal Games, Brazil won only two bronze medals. Joao Carlos de Oliveira, a world-class athlete, could not win a gold medal in the triple jump. South American men’s soccer team finished 4th – Brazil won the FIFA World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970.
Venezuela’s Rafael Vidal, who spent several years as a student in the United States and graduated from the University of Florida, won a bronze medal in the 200m butterfly at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, California.
Did you know… Kosovo – it is the youngest country in the world – will compete in London 2008. Due to political reasons, Kosovo could not participate in the 2008 Olympic Games in China. This new nation could participate in at least ten sports: athletics, boxing, kayaking/canoeing, gymnastics, shooting, swimming, table tennis, tennis, weightlifting, wrestling…
British basketball teams have qualified for London 2012. Since 1952, the UK has never participated in the Olympics, European tournaments or World Cup. The British men’s basketball team finished 20th at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.
In Athens 1896, Paul Neumann became the first swimmer from Austria to win a gold medal.
Three Swiss female athletes participated in the 1924 Olympics. It was the first time that Switzerland had sent a female athlete to the Summer Olympics…
At the 1896 Olympics, Greece – the host country – won 10 gold medals and finished second in the unofficial team championship.
Did you know… Guatemala – an anti-communist state in the 20th century – did not refuse to send an Olympic team to the Olympics in the USSR (currently Russia) in 1980. Honduras, Belize and El Salvador – other anti-communist countries in Central America – boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics…
Did you know… During the 1904 Olympics, the Canadian men’s soccer team won the world title. Olympic champions were: Ernest Linton, John Gourley, Albert Johnston, Thomas Taylor, Alexander Hall, William Twaits, Georges Ducker, Robert Lane, John Fraser, Frederick Steep, Gordon McDonald, Albert Henderson.
Did you know… At the 1904 Summer Olympics in Missouri (USA), Cuba finished third in the unofficial team rankings, behind the United States and Germany. Ramón Fonst won three gold medals in fencing.
In 1975, Hasely Crawford – a sprinter from Trinidad and Tobago – won silver in the 100m at the Pan American Games in Mexico City. Nine months later, Hasely won the 100-meter race at the XXI Olympic Games in Montreal (Canada).
Did you know… Cameroon – a tropical country on the African continent – sent one athlete to the Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. Isaac Menyoli said: “Everything is amazing. It’s like being in a fantasy. I’m happy to represent my country.”
In Athens 2004, Kirsty Coventry, a virtually unknown swimmer from Zimbabwe, won the gold medal in the 200m breaststroke. Interestingly, she is an American-educated athlete.
Women’s 200m breaststroke final:
1. Coventry, Kirsty (Zimbabwe) Gold Medal
2. Hoelzer, Margaret (USA) silver medal
3.Nakamura, Rieko (Japan) bronze medal
4. Zueva, Anastasia (Russia)
5. Beisel, Elisabeth (USA)
6. Simmonds, Elizabeth (United Kingdom)
7. Nay, Meagen (Australia)
8.Hocking, Belinda (Australia)
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