David Bruce: Summer Olympics Anecdotes

• At the Nazi Olympics, held in Germany in 1936, Adolf Hitler hoped to demonstrate the superiority of the Aryan race. However, African-American track star Jesse Owens, who was representing the United States, demolished that myth by winning four gold medals. A German athlete named Luz Long helped him to win one of the gold medals. To qualify for the long jump finals, Mr. Owens needed to make one of three attempts to jump a certain distance. Unfortunately, Mr. Owens committed faults on his two attempts. At this time, Mr. Long introduced himself to Mr. Owens and said, “You should be able to qualify with your eyes closed.” Because Mr. Owens had faulted due to stepping on the take-off line instead of jumping before he reached it, Mr. Long put a towel on the ground a few inches before the take-off line, and Mr. Owens used that as the mark for his takeoff. On his third and final attempt, Mr. Owens qualified easily. The following day, Mr. Owens won the gold medal in the long jump, and Mr. Long won the silver medal. The two athletes, one black and one white, walked off arm in arm. Hitler was not pleased.

• At the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea, high winds made sailing dangerous. In fact, Singapore teammates Joseph Chan and Shaw Her Siew were thrown into the water and injured in a competition. Sailing in a different race nearby was Canadian Lawrence Lemieux, who immediately stopped racing to win a medal and instead started racing to save two lives. He first hauled Mr. Chan aboard, then sailed to rescue Mr. Siew. After rescuing the two men, victory was impossible for Mr. Lemieux, but he finished 22ndout of 32 boats. The authorities decided to award Mr. Lemieux second place for this, the fifth race of a seven-race competition because he was in second place when he started his dramatic rescue. All competitors agreed that this was fair. Unfortunately, Mr. Lemieux did not win a medal at the Olympics; however, at the ceremony for the medal winners, the President of the International Olympic Committee told Mr. Lemieux, “By your sportsmanship, self-sacrifice, and courage, you embody all that is right with the Olympic ideal.”

• In 1956, the Olympics came to Australia — so did satirist Stan Freberg. He opened his comedy concerts by parodying the carrying of the Olympic torch, which was then making its way from town to town in Australia. Mr. Freberg, wearing a blue suit, would arrive at the comedy concert venue carrying the Olympic torch and make his way to the stage — where he allowed a confederate to use the torch to light his cigar.

• Women’s gymnast Mary Lou Retton became the major star of the 1984 Olympic Games, in large part because she won the gold medal in the all-around competition by scoring a perfect 10 in her final event: the vault. Before the 1988 Olympic Games, Kristie Phillips was repeatedly compared to Ms. Retton. In 1986, she said, “I guess it’s good exposure for me to be Mary Lou Number Two, but I’d rather be Kristie Number One.”

• At the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, Soviet Olga Korbut captured the hearts of sports fans everywhere with her open personality that reflected happiness or sadness and with her incredible flexibility and gymnastics skills. Fans were so taken with her that at one point when the television coverage broke away for a commercial, the announcer said, “We’ll be back with the Olga Korbut show in just a minute.”

• After boxer Cassius Clay, who later changed his name to Muhammad Ali, won a gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, he wore it constantly. He even wore it to bed, even though he had to sleep on his back to keep the medal from digging into his skin. His father was just as proud of the medal as young Cassius, and he celebrated by painting the front steps to their home red, white, and blue.

• At the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, John Walker, the 1,500-meter track champion from New Zealand, drank a few beers in order to come up with enough urine for his mandatory drug test following his gold medal-winning performance. Finally succeeding in his objective, he held the bottle up and said, “I’m very proud of this. It was harder than running the race.”

• At the very first modern Olympic Games in 1896, a woman named Melpomene wanted to compete in the marathon, but no women were allowed to compete back then. She ran anyway — not on the road the men ran on, but off to the side, so often she had no decent surface to run on. She finished one-and-a-half hours behind the winner.

• Jackie Joyner-Kersee became an Olympic gold medalist through lots of rigorous practice and training. When she was young, her family built her a long-jump pit near their porch. To get sand for the pit, Jackie and her sisters went to a nearby playground, filled empty potato chip bags with sand, then carried the sand back home.

• To get ready for the 1996 Olympic Games, softball shortstop Dot Richardson installed a batting cage in her apartment, and she practiced whenever she felt like it. One day, she discovered this note on the door to her apartment: “Please train for the Olympics a little earlier in the evening. Thanks.”

• At the 1896 Olympic Games in Greece, American swimmer Gardner Williams performed poorly. He was used to swimming in indoor pools, and when he jumped into the very cold Bay of Zea to swim in the 100-meter race, he yelled, “I’m freezing!” — then climbed back onto the pier.

• At the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, Native American Billy Mills pulled off a major upset when he won the 10,000-meter race. His victory was so unexpected that after Mr. Mills won the race, a Japanese race official was forced to ask him, “Excuse me, what is your name?”

• Before the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Olga Korbut was motivated to succeed. In fact, a 1970 entry in her diary stated, “1972, Munich, Olympic Games — 1st place.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved






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Voltaire’s CANDIDE: Chapter 28 – What Befell Candide, Cunegund, Pangloss, Martin, etc.

Chapter 28 – What Befell Candide, Cunegund, Pangloss, Martin, etc.

“Pardon,” said Candide to the Baron; “once more let me entreat your pardon, Reverend Father, for running you through the body.” 

“Say no more about it,” replied the Baron. “I was a little too hasty I must own; but as you seem to be desirous to know by what accident I came to be a slave on board the galley where you saw me, I will inform you. After I had been cured of the wound you gave me, by the College apothecary, I was attacked and carried off by a party of Spanish troops, who clapped me in prison in Buenos Ayres, at the very time my sister was setting out from there. I asked leave to return to Rome, to the general of my Order, who appointed me chaplain to the French Ambassador at Constantinople. I had not been a week in my new office, when I happened to meet one evening a young Icoglan, extremely handsome and well-made. The weather was very hot; the young man had an inclination to bathe. I took the opportunity to bathe likewise. I did not know it was a crime for a Christian to be found naked in company with a young Turk. A cadi ordered me to receive a hundred blows on the soles of my feet, and sent me to the galleys. I do not believe that there was ever an act of more flagrant injustice. But I would fain know how my sister came to be a scullion to a Transylvanian prince, who has taken refuge among the Turks?” 

“But how happens it that I behold you again, my dear Pangloss?” said Candide. 

“It is true,” answered Pangloss, “you saw me hanged, though I ought properly to have been burned; but you may remember, that it rained extremely hard when they were going to roast me. The storm was so violent that they found it impossible to light the fire; so they hanged me because they could do no better. A surgeon purchased my body, carried it home, and prepared to dissect me. He began by making a crucial incision from my navel to the clavicle. It is impossible for anyone to have been more lamely hanged than I had been. The executioner was a subdeacon, and knew how to burn people very well, but as for hanging, he was a novice at it, being quite out of practice; the cord being wet, and not slipping properly, the noose did not join. In short, I still continued to breathe; the crucial incision made me scream to such a degree, that my surgeon fell flat upon his back; and imagining it was the Devil he was dissecting, ran away, and in his fright tumbled down stairs. His wife hearing the noise, flew from the next room, and seeing me stretched upon the table with my crucial incision, was still more terrified than her husband, and fell upon him. When they had a little recovered themselves, I heard her say to her husband, ‘My dear, how could you think of dissecting a heretic? Don’t you know that the Devil is always in them? I’ll run directly to a priest to come and drive the evil spirit out.’ I trembled from head to foot at hearing her talk in this manner, and exerted what little strength I had left to cry out, ‘Have mercy on me!’ At length the Portuguese barber took courage, sewed up my wound, and his wife nursed me; and I was upon my legs in a fortnight’s time. The barber got me a place to be lackey to a Knight of Malta, who was going to Venice; but finding my master had no money to pay me my wages, I entered into the service of a Venetian merchant and went with him to Constantinople. 

“One day I happened to enter a mosque, where I saw no one but an old man and a very pretty young female devotee, who was telling her beads; her neck was quite bare, and in her bosom she had a beautiful nosegay of tulips, roses, anemones, ranunculuses, hyacinths, and auriculas; she let fall her nosegay. I ran immediately to take it up, and presented it to her with a most respectful bow. I was so long in delivering it that the man began to be angry; and, perceiving I was a Christian, he cried out for help; they carried me before the cadi, who ordered me to receive one hundred bastinadoes, and sent me to the galleys. I was chained in the very galley and to the very same bench with the Baron. On board this galley there were four young men belonging to Marseilles, five Neapolitan priests, and two monks of Corfu, who told us that the like adventures happened every day. The Baron pretended that he had been worse used than myself; and I insisted that there was far less harm in taking up a nosegay, and putting it into a woman’s bosom, than to be found stark naked with a young Icoglan. We were continually whipped, and received twenty lashes a day with a heavy thong, when the concatenation of sublunary events brought you on board our galley to ransom us from slavery.” 

“Well, my dear Pangloss,” said Candide to him, “when you were hanged, dissected, whipped, and tugging at the oar, did you continue to think that everything in this world happens for the best?” 

“I have always abided by my first opinion,” answered Pangloss; “for, after all, I am a philosopher, and it would not become me to retract my sentiments; especially as Leibnitz could not be in the wrong: and that preestablished harmony is the finest thing in the world, as well as a plenum and the materia subtilis.”


Source: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Candide


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