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Olympic Games trivia for pedants

Date

Robert Messenger

At the time of an Olympic Games, I’m at my pedantic, petulant and pestilent worst. So to take some heat off my workmates, I’ll instead ask my readers about a few bits of Olympic Games trivia.

For my sins, I’ve been dubbed ‘‘WikiMessenger’’ by The Canberra Times editorial night staff, and at the time of an Olympic Games, I’ve been seen at my pedantic, petulant and pestilent worst. So to take some heat off my workmates, I’ll instead ask my readers about a few bits of Olympic Games trivia:

1. Soviet Union invasions of two countries directly caused the cancellation of one Olympic Games and the massive boycott of another. Name the two countries the Soviets invaded to cause the Olympics to be disrupted.

2. The 1916 Olympic Games were awarded to which city? (This city had to wait a while before eventually staging the Olympics.)

3. And the 1944 Olympic Games? (Just a four-year wait.)

4. The great 1940s and ’50s American movie star Esther Williams, who turns 91 next Wednesday,  was denied the chance to swim for the US at the 1940 Tokyo Olympic Games when the Games were cancelled because of what event?

5. Esther Williams’ career was inspired by the Australian swimming star Annette Kellerman. The invention of which Olympic Games event is credited to Kellerman?

6. Rimas Kurtinaitis, the shooting guard who won three Olympic Games medals (gold for the Soviet Union in Seoul in 1988 and bronzes for Lithuania in Barcelona in 1992 and Atlanta in 1996) is the only Olympic gold medallist to play in Australia’s National Basketball League. For which Australian club did Kurtinaitis become the NBL’s first European import?

7. Melbourne-born Danny Carroll is one of only two people to win Olympic Games gold medals in the one sport for two different countries. What was his sport and which two countries did he help to win gold medals?

8. The other person who achieved the feat of winning Olympic Games gold medals in the same sport for two different countries is Georgian Akakide Kakhiachvili, who won his first gold medal in Barcelona in 1992 competing with the Unified Team, and later won golds as a citizen of Greece in Atlanta in 1996 and in Sydney in 2000. What was his sport?

9. Britain is the only country credited with having won a gold medal at every one of the modern Olympic Games. Its first-ever gold medal winner, at the 1896 Athens Olympic Games, was weightlifter Launceston Elliot. Elliot was born in Mumbai, but where in Australia was he conceived?

10. Here’s an easy one at last: Who is the only person to light the Olympic Flame and win a gold medal at the same Games, winning her country’s 100th gold in the process in front of the largest-ever crowd at an Olympic session?

11. Denver battler Eddie Eagan is the only person to have won gold medals in both the Summer and Winter Olympics, in the Summer Games in 1920 in Antwerp and as a bobsledder at the Winter Games in 1932 at Lake Placid. What was his sport in Antwerp?

12. Texan Morris Kirksey won two gold medals for the US at the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games, one in rugby union and the other in?

13. British runner Philip Noel-Baker is the only person to win both an Olympic Games medal and a Nobel Prize. He won his Games medal, a silver, in the 1500m in Antwerp in 1920. In which field did he win a Nobel Prize (in 1959?).

14. A brilliant 1981 movie, Chariots of Fire, was centred around Harold Abrahams’ win in the 100m at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. The real name of only one character was changed for the movie, that of the bronze medallist in the 100, New Zealand’s Arthur Porritt. Why did Porritt insist director Hugh Hudson change Porritt’s name to ‘‘Tom Watson’’?

15. Beaten back into sixth place by Jim Thorpe in the pentathlon in Stockholm was his countryman Avery Brundage. In 1955, Brundage, as president of the International Olympic Committee, became the most hated man in Melbourne. Why?

ANSWERS:

1. Finland and Afghanistan; the 1940 Games, awarded to Helsinki after being taken away from Tokyo, were cancelled and the 1980 Moscow Games were attended by only 80 nations. Some say 81 nations, but the seven Liberian athletes who entered did not compete.

2. Berlin.

3. London.

4. Japan’s invasion of China.

5. Synchronised swimming.

6. The Townsville Suns.

7. Rugby union; for Australia (London, 1908) and the United States (Antwerp, 1920). Carroll also coached the US team which retained the Olympic Games rugby union title in Paris in 1924.

8. Weightlifting.

9. As his name might suggest, Launceston, Tasmania. He is buried in Melbourne.

10. Cathy Freeman.

11. Boxing.

12. Athletics (4 x 100 metres relay).

13. Peace, man (for working toward disarmament).

14. Modesty. Or so he said.

15. He wanted to take the 1956 Olympic Games away from Melbourne, citing organisational problems, and give them to Philadelphia. Games organising committee chairman Wilfred Kent Hughes responded by saying he didn’t need ‘‘Chicago blow-ins [who] come out here and blow their tops over nothing in particular and annoy everyone in general’’. Now, talking about being annoying ...

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