David Bruce: The Funniest People in Sports, Volume 2: 250 Anecdotes — Olympics, Opera

Olympics

• As a little girl, figure skater Sasha Cohen sometimes watched a videotape of Kristi Yamaguchi winning a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics; however, she was so young that she didn’t realize that she was watching a tape. She thought that she was seeing a new competition each time, and she was impressed that Ms. Yamaguchi kept winning gold medal after gold medal. Even as a little girl, Sasha had won a few medals at kids’ competitions. These were displayed on her bedroom wall, and she thought that Ms. Yamaguchi’s wall had to be covered with gold medals.

• In 1968, the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia. Czech gymnast Vera Caslavska did not want the Soviets in her country, so she was not permitted to train in a proper facility. She ended up practicing her floor exercise in a field, and tree limbs substituted for bars during her training. Nevertheless, despite the lack of proper training facilities, she triumphed at the 1968 Olympic Games, winning four gold medals, including one in the all-around competition, and two silver medals, including one in the team competition.

• At the 1896 Olympic Games in Greece, James Connolly competed in the hop, skip, and jump, an event that is now known as the triple jump. The French competitor made a very good effort, so Mr. Connolly threw his hat a little further than the French competitor had gone, then he proceeded to better the French competitor’s effort. When Mr. Connolly threw out his hat, the crowd was shocked, but when he tripled-jumped past his hat, they cheered.

• Watching TV with someone who has a lesbian sensibility can be interesting. Lesbian comedian Kate Clinton and her significant other were watching the Salt Lake Winter Olympics when the women’s luge event came on the screen. Her significant other said, “The luge is a very gay event.” Almost immediately, as they watched the luge sled hurtling down a chute, the TV announcer said, “She’s controlling the whole thing with her inner thighs.”

• During autumn of 1975, David Leonardi took several photographs of figure skater Dorothy Hamill outside. During the photo session, a single leaf fell on top of Ms. Hamill’s head. When Mr. Leonardi snapped her photograph, the leaf looked exactly like a small crown. The leaf was prophetic—Ms. Hamill became queen of the 1976 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, when she won the gold medal in women’s figure skating.

• American Al Oerter became a discus thrower by accident. In high school, he had been running the mile, but when an errant discus fell near him during practice he picked it up. Rather than walk it back, he threw it back—and it landed 50 feet past the discus throwers. His coach ran up to him and said, “You’re now my discus thrower.” Good choice. Mr. Oerter won the gold medal in discus at the 1956, 1960, 1964, and 1968 Olympic Games.

• 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.”

• 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.”

Opera

• Lots of people enjoy opera when it is broadcast on the radio. A football fan had an unusual problem when the Metropolitan Opera was broadcast on the radio at the same time his favorite football team was playing a game on TV. He solved the problem by listening to the opera on the radio while watching the football game on TV with the sound turned off.

• In 1946, opera singer Helen Traubel met the widow of a famous baseball player. The widow told her, “My husband was always such a fan of yours. He would go and hear you whenever he could. He never told any of the fellows on the team because he was afraid they would think he was a sissy.” The baseball player was Lou Gehrig.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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