After seven years, millions of pounds of public money and one great sitcom, the Olympic Games of 2012 are finally upon us. The eyes of the world will be on Stratford, with Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony kicking things off this evening (BBC coverage starts at 7pm) but before the action starts properly, we thought we’d take a look at some of the craziest moments in Olympic history..
Hungarian Weightlifter’s Arm Goes Backwards
In a clip that only a sadist would label amusing , Hungarian weightlifter Janos Baranyai attempts to ‘snatch’ (quiet at the back!) 148kg during the Beijing 2008 Games. He fails to complete the lift, with agonising consequences. Officials come to the rescue, and the Chinese PR team sets to work…
Eric The Eel
Star of the 2000 summer Olympics, ‘Eric the Eel’ (real name Eric Moussambani) rose to fame when he competed in the 100m freestyle. Having had no proper training (it was the first time the poor bloke had even SEEN a 50 metre Olympic pool) the swimmer from Equatorial Guinea came in last place with a time over twice as slow as his competitors. Still, he beat his personal best..
Ben Johnson Does Steroids.. and Doesn’t Get Away With It
In what is perhaps The Olympic’s biggest scandal, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson won gold after he ran the 100m sprint in blinding 9.79 seconds at the Seoul games of 1988, yet three days later he tested positive for an unpronounceable steroid and his Gold Medal was taken away. In recent years some have defended him by pointing to the fact that five of the men in the final were done for doping at some point in their career (Linford Christie included) and he simply got caught on the biggest stage. Anyway, in 2010 he released an autobiography called ‘Seoul to Soul’ in which he claimed he was an Egyptian Pharaoh in a previous life.
Koreans Rig The Boxing.. and Get Away With It
The Nazi’s tried it, The Soviets mastered it in 1980, but no one cheated quite so unashamedly as the South Koreans in 1988. They even warned everyone they were going to do it! Anyway after giving Park Si-Hun a battering in the Light Middle-weight section final, Roy Jones Jr was denied a blatant victory. One reporter joked that he would have had to knock his Korean opponent out to get a draw..
Cuban Taekwondo Bloke Goes ‘Chuck Norris’
Ã?ngel Matos won a taekwondo Gold medal in Sydney, but he caused quite a stir eight years later when he was disqualified from a match after using up too much ‘injury-time’. He kicked off. Literally.Â ChannelingÂ the spirit of Chuck Norris, Matos was so angry he unleashed a high roundhouse right into the ref’s face, before shoving a judge and spitting on the floor. John McEnroe, this is how it’s done… Matos’ legacy lives on, in the form of a Royal Mail stamp, which many people in the Taekwondo community believe echoes the incident uncannily…
Tug of War an Actual Olympic Sport
If you thought there were some dumb sports in the Olympics these days (Dressage?!) then imagine being around when The Tug of War was an event. To be fair, there are plenty more boring ‘sports’ on the list for London 2012. Anyway, it would be easier to deride the sport if we weren’t so bloody great at it. Britain won Gold Medals in 1908 and 1920! Hurrah!
The Chinese Propaganda Machine is Revealed
Fireworks are a limited medium. Spectacular they may be, but they aren’t the best way of illustrating something like say… massive foot prints being placed across the sky. The organisers of the 2008 Beijing Olympics tried to pull the feat off, but in the end, they settled on CGI to give a helping hand. Perhaps they should of gone with roman candles and some safety sparklers and be done with it. Further to this, it later transpired that the young girl singing in the opening ceremony was in fact lip synching, as the girl with the voice wasn’t deemed attractive enough to be put in front of an audience. Simon Cowell eat your heart out..
Devers Falls At The Final Hurdle
Gail Devers had already won the 100m at the Barcelona Games of 1992 and she seemed set to add another Gold to her haul when she flew into the lead in the 100m hurdles. Unfortunately she went down in the final stages, leaving Voula Patoulidou from Greece to take the title. It was the biggest upset of the Games. The grainy VHS recording of the incident is below, try not to wince..
Shattered Long-Distance Runner Shows Swiss Steel
In the best example of ‘True Grit’, the Swiss long distance runner Gabrielle Andersen-Scheiss was determined to finish the race, despite suffering from exhausation and possibly heat stroke. Shooing away medical personnel, knowing that if they were to touch her, she would be disqualified, she finished in 37th place. If anybody’s felt a bit knackered after having to run for a bus, take note…
Koreans BBQ Pigeons During Opening Ceremony
It’s the opening ceremony of the 1988 Seoul Olympics. The torch bearers lap the stadium, before standing on a platform that will take them to the piece de resistance, the lighting of the cauldron. In the cauldron are doves, which are set to be released, symbolising world peace. Tragically, not all of the doves elect to fly away, and the ones that are left are burnt alive. It’s horrible stuff, and knowing this before watching the video makes the whole thing even more surreal. I doubt the organisers intended to pay homage to The Wicker Man in such a way, but there you go…