Fact of the Day

How Amsterdam 1928 changed the face of car parking

The 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam saw a number of important milestones, but one we still all benefit from today is revolutionising car parking. Like other cities around Europe in the late 1920s, the streets of Amsterdam were filling up fast with cars, and during the Games this issue was more pressing than ever, so organisers were forced to rack their brains in search of a solution. The allotted parking area next to the Olympic Stadium had room for a maximum of 2,000 vehicles, nowhere near enough to meet the demand during Games time. In response, the City Council provided a number of other sites that took parking capacity up to 3,500 vehicles and 2,000 bicycles. However, no sooner had one problem been solved than another was created: how were drivers and cyclists supposed to find their way to the new car parks? A solution was found in the shape of small blue panels with a white capital "P" in the middle. So it was that the international traffic sign for parking was born.

Iranian judoka eats away chance of gold medal to avoid meeting Israeli

At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Iranian judoka Arash Miresmaeili was disqualified for weighing in at nearly four pounds above the limit for his weight class of his under-66 kilograms match against an Israeli opponent Ehud Vaks in the first round. It was claimed Miresmaeili had gone on an eating binge to protest the International Olympic Committee's recognition of the state of Israel. Iran does not recognise the state of Israel, and Miresmaeili's actions won praise from high-ranking Iranian officials. Mohammad Khatami, the country's President at the time, was quoted as saying Miresmaili's actions would be "recorded in the history of Iranian glories".  He was later awarded $125,000 by the Government - the same amount given to Olympic gold medallists. 

Road cycling race moved after discovered competitors would have broken speed-limit

The road cycle race at the 1948 Olympic Games in London was moved to Windsor from its originally planned venue at Richmond Park when it was discovered that any activity at more than 20 miles per hour was prohibited. The race was held on Friday August 13 and was started in a torrential downpour on Smith's Lawn in Windsor Great Park by HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. The race distance was 120 miles, comprised of 17 laps which took the leaders approximately 18 minutes each to complete. The individual race was won by France's José Beyaert, while Belgium took the gold medal in the team event. Beyaert remains the last French cyclist to win the Olympic road race.

First Winter Paralympic Games took place in 1976

The first Winter Paralympic Games were held in Örnsköldsvik in Sweden in 1976. The disabilities included were blindness and amputees. A total of 16 countries took part with 53 athletes. Events were held in Alpine and Nordic skiing for amputee and visually impaired athletes and a demonstration event in ice sledge racing. West Germany finished top of the overall medals. They won a total of 28 medals, including 10 gold. The event was originally known as the 1st Winter Olympic Games for the Disabled.

Jamaica celebrates winning surprise gold medal with national holiday

After Jamaica won the Olympic gold medal in the 4x400 metres relay at Helsinki 1952, the island's Governor decreed a national holiday, But after the day of celebrating came the day of reckoning as many islanders were brought to the courts for breaches of the liquor laws. Their plea? "Helsinki, Your Honour". The local newspaper said that the judge smiled and passed "sporting sentences". In Helsinki, the winning team offered the Duke of Edinburgh a drink to help their celebrations. They possessed no drinking glasses but found a toothbrush tumbler. Cheerfully the Duke joined in.

Genchev not such an Angel

Bulgarian weightlifter Angel Genchev was winner of the Olympic gold medal in the lightweight division at Seoul 1988 before he tested positive for a banned diuretic and stripped of the title, In 1992 he was sent to prison for two years after being convicted of rape. But he was released early so he could represent his country at the World Championships in 1994, where he won a bronze medal.  He was sent to prison again in 2001 after he shot at a taxi driver. 

When America sent two ice hockey teams to the Olympics

The ice hockey tournament at the 1948 Olympics in St. Moritz was nearly cancelled after the United States sent two teams. One was sponsored by the Amateur Athletic Union and the United States Olympic Committee and which was strictly amateur. The other by the Amateur Hockey Association and the Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace, who were responsible for approving the participation of national teams at the Games, and included professionals. The IOC initially ruled that neither team could compete, leading the LIHG to threaten to boycott the Olympics, The AHA team were allowed to play but received no official ranking and were not eligible to win a medal.

The right Angle

American Kurt Angle won the Olympic gold medal in the men's freestyle wrestling heavyweight division at Atlanta 1996 despite suffering a fractured neck. After the Games, Angle went on to star in World Wrestling Entertainment and won the WWE Championship belt four times  and World Heavyweight Championship title one. He remains the only professional wrestler to have won an Olympic gold medal. 

Atlanta Sound Machine

The official theme music of the 1996 Olympic in Atlanta was Summon the Heroes by John Williams, his third composition at a Games following Olympic Fanfare and Theme at Los Angeles 1984 and The Olympic Spirit at Seoul 1988. The official song, however, of Atlanta 1996 was Reach, sung by Gloria Estefan at the Closing Ceremony. 

Two silvers, no gold

At the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden's Anders Ahlgren fought Finland's Ivor Böhling in the final of the wrestling light heavyweight class. The pair wrested for nine hours without a winner emerging and the officials declared the match a tie. Neither of the two was awarded a gold medal, both receiving silver medals instead. 

Newspaper campaign sees Scots crowned Olympic gold medallists after 82 years

In February 2006, it was announced that curling at the very first Winter Olympic Games at Chamonix in 1924 was part of the official programme and not a demonstration event as many authoritative sources had previously claimed. This official confirmation by the International Olympic Committee was the culmination of an investigative campaign begun by the Glasgow-based newspaper The Herald, on behalf of the families of the eight Scots who won the first curling gold medals. The winning team was selected by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club in Perth, the mother club of curling.

Los Angeles show how to make the Olympics profitable

The 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles were held during a worldwide depression but that did not stop the American city from making a profit of $1 million. They achieved the record figure even after paying for the accommodation costs of the Games by building the first Olympic Village, giving free food to all the athletes and paying for their entertainment during the 16 days of the Games.  

Raw steak and salad inspire a future military great

When George S. Patton, Jr was preparing for the modern pentathlon at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm he used to eat a plate of raw steak and salad after each training session. On the final day of the competition, he prepared for the cross-country run by receiving an injection of opium. The regime saw Patton finish fifth. He later found greater fame for commanding the U.S. Seventh Army in the Mediterranean and European during World War Two and for his leadership of the U.S. Third Army in France and Germany following the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.

Colonial India inspired by own flag before winning Olympic gold medal

As India was a British colony, its athletes had to march behind Great Britain's flag at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. But in the dressing room before their final match against Germany, India's hockey team saluted the tricolor flag of the Indian National Congress. The team went on to win 8-1, with Dhyan Chand scoring six goals playing barefoot, to claim the gold medal. 

How little-known British fencer ended up playing James Bond

British fencer Steven Paul competed at three Olympic Games - Moscow 1980, Los Angeles 1984 and Barcelona 1992 - without winning a medal. He found more success after he retired when he trained Pierce Brosnan for his fencing scenes in the James Bond film Die Another Day and served as the actor's double for the more technical shots in the movie released in 2002. The film earned $432 million worldwide, becoming the sixth highest-grossing film of the year.