Olympia: crazy stories about the games of all games

Crazy stories about the games of all games

Barrel jumping was an Olympic discipline at the beginning of the 20th century.

© Getty Images / ullstein Bild Dtl.

Olympia writes the strangest stories. In addition to broken records and shed tears, there are also curiosities to report.

The Olympia event not only produces top sporting performances, but is also a real cabinet of curiosities. A look back shows how unbelievable and funny the famous games can be.

St. Louis 1904: Marathon winner can be taken away by the support vehicle

The marathon runner Frederick Lorz was the first to cross the finish line in 1904 and was celebrated as an Olympic champion. Just stupid that it turned out that the American had covered a good half of the distance in an escort vehicle. Lorz had already given up after cramps at kilometer 14 and got out. After the car had given up too, Lorz ran again himself and crossed the finish line first. The then 20-year-old said it was all just joke. He was not believed and imposed on him as a punishment with an initially lifelong ban, which then expired in 1905.

Berlin 1936: Man takes part in the women’s high jump

Dora Ratjen took part in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin and wanted to aim high. She finished fourth in the high jump, followed by the world record two years later. Only then did it emerge that Ratjen was intersex, and that put an end to his sporting career as a woman. A few years later, his “formal legal gender” was changed to “male”. From then on he called himself Heinrich “Heinz” Ratjen.

Los Angeles 1984: Puerto Rican sends twin sister to long jump

The fact that Puerto Rican Madeline de Jesus has a twin sister benefited the athlete at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. She competed in the 4 x 400 relay and in the long jump, in which she injured herself. Without further ado, she sent her sister, who was actually sitting in the stands as a spectator, in her place. The exchange was not noticed and the team qualified in the relay sprint. Ultimately, the head coach of Puerto Rico got wind of the fraud and took the entire running team out of the competition.

Sarajevo 1984: Ski team from Chile arrives without equipment

It was not only in the summer games that things went well. While the 1984 Winter Games were largely dominated by the GDR, the Chilean team caught the world’s attention in other ways. The ski team arrived without skis, poles and shoes. The Chilean association had decided that they wanted to buy the equipment on site first.

Rio 2016: No fishing in the toilet

Different countries, different customs: at the games in Rio 2016, the organizers wanted to play it safe with the hygiene concept. A sign hung on the toilets for the athletes made the American basketball player Elena Delle Donne (31) smile. Under the heading “Please don’t throw toilet paper in the toilet” there were some drawings with stick figures. These highlighted activities that were prohibited in the toilet, such as fishing, vomiting, and urinating on one leg. Elena Delle Donne photographed the prohibitions and wrote about her post on Instagram: “I guess I will probably not go fishing today.”

Really now? These disciplines were once Olympic

One or more Olympic curiosities lead us back to the beginnings of the Games. In its more than 120-year history there have been a wide variety of competitions, not all of which have made it to this day. In addition to pigeon shooting (with real pigeons!), Rope climbing and tug of war were also Olympic for a while. Probably the most unsavory discipline enjoyed great popularity in St. Louis in 1904: tobacco spitting. Sack races and barrel jumping through suspended barrels also got Olympic appearances. Today, such categories are more reminiscent of children’s birthdays than of top athletic performance.