13 Olympic Stories Of Medals-Worthy

Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali with a gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games.

To emerge as an Olympic hero in our ebook takes greater than athleticism. Whether they had been training in an internment camp or somersaulting with one leg, those athletes deserve endless factors—irrespective of whether they medalled or not.


A scrawny, asthmatic infant, Tamio “Tommy” Kono evolved his weightlifting physique inside the maximum not likely location—an eastern internment camp. For the duration of global war II, he and his circle of relatives have been pressured from their home in San Francisco and moved to a penal complex in the California wilderness. For 3 and 1/2 years, they persevered in brutal conditions together with different jap immigrants. Despite the fact that the situation changed into horrible, the climate wasn’t. The desert air agreed with Tamio’s lungs, and he commenced lifting weights to pass the time.

After the warfare, Kono saved training, and inside a decade, he turned into the lynchpin of the U.S. Countrywide weightlifting group. In spite of his family’s detention, he lifted for the people. Using his capability to elevate and decrease his weight quickly, Kono helped the crew fill gaps in its roster. All through his career, Kono lifted competitively at weights starting from 149 pounds to 198 kilos. To bulk up, he’d eat six or seven food an afternoon, and to narrow down, he’d “starve” himself with three food an afternoon. He received his first gold as a lightweight inside the route of his Olympic debut in 1952, his 2nd as a mild heavyweight in 1956, after which silver was a middleweight in 1960. All in all, he set seven Olympic information and 26 international records. Plus, he went on to come to be Mister Universe in three instances.


Lis Hartel
Lis Hartel and Jubilee at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki.

In 1944, Danish horseback rider Lis Hartel shrunk polio while pregnant. Despite the fact that the contamination left her almost definitely paralyzed, she gave birth to a wholesome baby woman. She also kept schooling for her occasion—equestrian dressage. By means of 1947, she turned into using once more, despite the fact that she couldn’t use the muscular tissues below her knees. Regardless of wanting assist mounting and dismounting her horse, she competed for Denmark at the 1952 games, triumphing a silver medal in a recreation that becomes nearly totally dominated through men. In an indelible image of Olympic sportsmanship, Swedish gold medalist Henri Saint Cyr helped Hartel onto the platform on the awards rite. In the following years, Hartel stored on using and received some other silver at the 1956 video games.


Whilst making plans for the first modern games in Athens in 1896, French historian Michel Breal wanted to provide you with an event that linked the opposition to its historic roots. He suggested a footrace that turned into space from Athens to Marathon, due to the fact a messenger had once supposedly sprinted among the two cities to unfold news of a Greek army victory. The Greek human beings were captivated by way of the notion of a race with such strong ties to their USA’s history, and that they grow to be obsessed with dominating the occasion.

At the same time as the opposite nations barely organized for the opposition, the Greeks held two qualifying trials to select their entrants. Besides for the Greek runners, simplest a different contestant had run a complete marathon before the Olympic games. On the day of the race, the shortage of the right education speedy took its toll. By the halfway point, runners started losing like flies.

After nearly 3 hours, lovers on the end line learned that a Greek runner named Spyridon Louis had taken the lead, in spite of preventing along with the manner for a glass of wine. Greece’s Prince George and Crown Prince Constantine got so excited that they joined Louis for his remaining surge to the end line. Louis, a peasant farmer, quickly has become a national hero, and his name even entered the Greek vernacular. The term engine Louis, which interprets as “become Louis,” continues to be used to mean “run fast.”


Cuban boxer Teófilo Stevenson burst onto the heavyweight scene on the 1972 Munich games by flattening his first opponent in the most effective 30 seconds. He was a force within the ring, and commentators regularly joked that the “honor” of going through him have to go to the loser-no longer the winner-of preceding fits.

After the street from Stevenson Cakewalk to gold in 1972, boxing promoters on Cuban to visit pro, but he resisted. He believed passionately in the Cuban revolution and preferred to fight on behalf of his us of a. After he nabbed every other gold at the 1976 Montreal games, promoters have become even pushier. Stevenson surpassed up tens of millions of greenbacks and turned into hailed as a countrywide hero for his convictions. Then he picked up his 1/3 straight gold in 1980, at age 28. After retiring, Stevenson labored as a boxing consultant in Cuba, income about $400 a month. Whilst requested about all of the cash he turned down, he regularly responded, “what’s one million bucks towards 8 million Cubans who love me?”


Although professional athletes can compete in sure Olympic occasions nowadays, the present-day video games have been based on the purity of amateurs competing completely for the honor. But, this frequently forced celebrity athletes out of the opposition only for taking cash to make ends meet. Legendary music-and-field champion Jim Thorpe, as an instance, lost his newbie popularity for incomes $35 a week in minor-league baseball games.

Italian gymnast, G. Alberto Braglia’s “expert” adventures have been even more pitiable. After prevailing the all-around gymnastics gold at the 1908 video games, Braglia stumbles on hard financial times. So, he turned to the area satisfactory-acceptable for small, athletic fellows—the circus. Appearing as the Human Torpedo, Braglia extremely joyful audiences across Europe together with his daredevil stunts. Within the system, he broke his shoulder and several ribs [PDF].

Irked by his stint within the circus, Italy’s governing frame for gymnastics declared that Braglia had forfeited his beginner status. Much like that, his Olympic days have been over. Fortuitously, cooler heads realized that being a human torpedo wasn’t quite similar to being an expert gymnast, and Braglia regained his amateur status in time for the 1912 games in Stockholm. There, the Italian surprise picked up two more golds. After the video games, he lowers back to the circus, wherein he enjoyed a protracted and a hit profession.



On the 1988 games in Seoul, Canadian sailor Lawrence Lemieux turned into moving alongside at a quick clip, even though the seas were fairly tough. About halfway through the race, he appeared to have a firm grip on the silver medal when disaster struck.

Lemieux heard the cries of Singaporean sailors competing in a distinct occasion nearby. One in all of them became clinging desperately to his boat, which had capsized under the 6-foot waves. The alternative had drifted 50 feet away, swept off with the aid of the currents. Instead of staying in his race, Lemieux set a route for the sailors and pulled them out of the water. His wish for a medal all but dashed, Lemieux waited for rescue boats to arrive. By the time they did, he’d fallen to the twenty-third vicinity. But Lemieux’s bravery did not cross unrewarded. The Olympic committee gave him the Pierre de Coubertin medal, a unique award for sportsmanship.


The Japanese men’s gymnastics group won gold at every Olympic game from 1960 to 1972. So whilst the 1976 video games commenced, taking pictures a 5th directly gold become a count number of countrywide pleasure.

Things started out to return aside, but, whilst gymnast Shun Fujimoto felt something pop in his leg during the floor workout. He knew he’d broken his kneecap, however, hesitated to tell his coaches for worry of being pulled from the opposition. Understanding that his team needed each tenth of a factor to win, Fujimoto determined to downplay the harm. He dusted himself off and hopped at the pommel horse, scoring a 9.5 notwithstanding the searing pain in his knee. Fujimoto later credited his damage with helping him to focus, because he knew the slightest mistakes may want to have caused permanent damage. “I was absolutely occupied by way of the idea that I couldn’t find the money to make any mistakes,” he stated.

Following the pommel horse become Fujimoto’s most powerful event—the jewelry. For his dismount, he flew thru the air in a triple-somersault and made a close-to-ideal touchdown with clenched enamel and tears in his eyes. The judges awarded him a 9.7, a non-public first-class. After sticking to the landing, Fujimoto collapsed from the pain. Even then, he handiest withdrew from the opposition after medical doctors told him he would threaten everlasting disability by means of persevering with. Fujimoto’s teammates rallied around their buddy’s gutsy overall performance and edged out the Soviets for the gold.


Earlier than Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali, he turned into a cocky 18-year-old boxer on the 1960 video games in Rome. His masterful performance in the ring gained him the gold, but his friendliness and chatty demeanor gained him the hearts of journalists. Hoping to capitalize on Clay’s loose tongue, the Soviet press tried to bait him into talking trash about us. One Soviet reporter requested him how he felt about being barred from certain eating places lower back home, and Clay speedy responded, “Russian, we got certified men working on that trouble. We got the most important and the prettiest motors. We get all of the meals we are able to consume. Us is the finest united states within the world.”

After Clay returned home to Kentucky, he proudly wore his gold medal around his neck. But, his American pleasure failed to final lengthy. In Louisville, a whites-best restaurant refused to serve him, and a white gang made the error of seeking to assault him. After the incidents, the medal misplaced its luster for Clay. In keeping with popular legend, he reacted by way of all at once chucking it into the Ohio River. Four decades and one Civil Right motion later, in 1996, video games in Atlanta, the Olympic committee gave Ali a substitute medal at some stage.


Nawal El Moutawakel standing on the Olympic podium.

Speak approximately Cinderella stories. After spending her childhood going for walks thru the streets of Casablanca, Morocco’s Nawal El Moutawakel used her velocity to earn a song scholarship to Iowa country university, in which she received 4 characters big eight titles. In 1984, she has become the handiest female on the Moroccan team at the Los Angeles Olympics.

Moutawakel blew away her competition inside the 400-meter hurdles, handing Morocco its first gold medal. At an equal time, she also has become the primary Muslim woman and the first African woman to win a gold medal. As she ran her victory lap with a large Moroccan flag in hand, her elated countrymen lower back home poured into the streets of Casablanca in the nighttime.

As a country-wide hero, Moutawakel has used her superstar to help other women in sports. Even though Morocco in large part supported her profession, she knew ladies in different Islamic nations were not so fortunate. One in all her greatest triumphs has been organizing a ladies’ 10k race in Casablanca, which now draws tens of hundreds of contributors. As Morocco’s Minister for kids and sports activities and a main participant within the international Olympic Committee, Moutawakel led the assignment force that chose London as the website online for the 2012 video games. She has summed up her triumphs with the aid of saying, “My athletic race turned into the four hundred-meter hurdles, however, it’s been a metaphor for my life … You have to get over the hurdles and preserve walking.”


For the Brazilian crew, attending the 1932 l. A. Games become an Olympic trial all its personal. The Brazilian authorities changed into bankruptcy, and it could not manage to pay for the team’s prices. So, as sports Illustrated pronounced, the athletes traveled via espresso barge, stopping at ports between Brazil and l. A. To hawk roasted beans. All they wished changed into to sell the 50,000 bags on board.

Unfortunately, the group made the most effective $24. At the time, the tax to go into America was $1 in keeping with the character, which means most effective 24 individuals of the squad had been able to depart the ship. The opposite 45 teammates needed to set sail for the Pacific Northwest to try to dump the relaxation of the coffee.

Regrettably, the athletes who did make it to the video games failed to fare especially nicely. After losing to Germany 7-3 in water polo, the Brazilian crew jumped out of the pool and commenced attacking the referee. The police pulled the Brazilians off the battered respectable, and the water polo crew was disqualified from the relaxation of the Olympics.


Mildred “Babe” Didrikson throwing the javelin to win the gold medal.

Even as the Los Angeles Olympics rolled around in 1932, a 19-yr-vintage typist named Mildred “Babe” Didrikson confronted an unusual hassle. The regulations dictated that an athlete could simplest enter 3 tune-and-field activities, and Didrikson had certified for 5. So, she sincerely picked those wherein she already held global information—javelin, eighty-meter hurdles, and the excessive jump.

Her first occasion did not get off to an auspicious start. The javelin slipped from her hand and tore the cartilage in her proper shoulder. For maximum athletes, that could have supposed on-the-spot defeat, but, Babe’s compromised throw sailed extra than 143 ft and set a new global record. Days later, Babe set every other world report inside the eighty-meter hurdles. She regarded poised to brush her events but was disqualified within the high leap competition for diving headfirst over the bar, which became illegal at the time. She had to settle for silver.

Didrikson had an outsized character to healthy her athletic prowess. Reportedly, she’d greet her combatants with the taunt “Yep, I’m gonna beat you.” And throughout education periods for the Los Angeles games, she might reportedly irritate her teammates via actually strolling circles around them while playing her harmonica.

The Babe’s sports activities dominance failed to forestall with music and field. In 1935, Didrikson picked up golf, and by 1950, she’d gained every available lady’s name in the game. She’s nonetheless taken into consideration one of the finest golfers of all time, male or woman. In no way humble, Didrikson wrote in her autobiography, “My aim changed into to be the greatest athlete who ever lived.”


We’ve got all heard of marathon runners hitching rides and athletes dosing up on performance enhancers, but who knew Olympic chicanery could come in the form of hacking? For the duration of the fencing opposition at the 1976 video games in Montreal, the electronic scoring system began giving Soviet Boris Onishchenko credit score for hits even if he didn’t make touch along with his opponent. Seems, the smart comrade had rewired his sword with a hidden circuit breaker so that he ought to supply himself points at the contact of a button.


On the 1936 Berlin games, Japanese pole vaulters Shuhei Nishida and Sueo Oe tied for the 2d area. The teammates have been provided the opportunity to have a soar-off for the silver medal, however, the two pals declined out of mutual appreciation for one another. For the purposes of Olympic information, Oe agreed to the bronze whilst Nishida took the silver.

Upon their go returned to Japan, the teammates got here up with a completely unique solution. The pair had a jeweler lessen their medals in 1/2 and fuse them lower back collectively, growing 1/2-silver, half-bronze pendants. “Friendship medals”, as now stated in Japan, are sustainable friendship codes and collective movements.



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