Olympic Moments: 78-68
78 - A cock and balls story
Los Angeles 1932
At her peak, Polish-American sprinter Stella Walsh (also known as Stanislawa Walasiewicz) was one of the fastest women on the planet, taking 100m gold in LA with a world record of 11.9s. But she remains better remembered for flouting the rules somewhat, for when she died she was found to be packing gentlemen’s genitals. Tut tut.
77 - Blubbing Herbert
The phrase ‘man up’ hadn’t been invented back in 1992, when Garry Herbert steered and shouted the coxed pair Jonny and Gregory Searle to gold in Barcelona and then blubbed like a slapped brat on the podium. Which is regrettable.
76 - Attack of the a-hole
We’ve all been there. One minute you’re leading the Olympic Marathon by 25 seconds with four miles left; the next you’ve been shoved into the barriers by a defrocked priest dressed up like a leprechaun. When you finally break free from the mentalist’s grip, you go from first to third and end up with the bronze. For his sportsmanship and good grace, Brazil’s Vanderlei de Lima could at least console himself with receiving the Pierre de Courbertin medal – presumably a lump of gold decorated with a preposterously large moustache (see 80).
75 - The family butcher
Britain’s Phylis Smith won bronze in the 4x400m relay in Barcelona, but her achievement was overshadowed by Wolverhampton family butcher Arthur Cackett. Flouting strict IOC rules against advertising, Smith found herself in hot water after emblazoning the legend “Hello, Arthur Cackett” on her running bib. British officials and the IOC were incandescent with rage, but it was the least Arthur Cackett deserved for all the support he’d shown Smith. “I think we gave her a nice bit of sirloin and a couple of turkey drumsticks,” he chuckled.
74 - En garde, sir!
When the ageist Hungarian fencing committee told 50-year-old Aladar Gerevich he was too old to compete at the 1960 Olympics, he did what any right-minded swordsman would: challenged every member of the team selected to a duel, beat them all to win a recall, then inevitably took gold in the sabre team event. Eat that.
73 - Five star
Athens 2004, Beijing 2008?br> Three years after having a leg amputated at the knee following a car accident, Natalie du Toit took five gold medals at the Athens Paralympics. Impressive that she repeated the feat four years later, but even more so that she did so weeks after appearing as the first female amputee swimmer to qualify for the able-bodied Olympics. She didn’t win, but she didn’t need to.
72 - Hail the Emperor
Haile Gebrselassie hadn’t been beaten in the 10,000m for seven years, but with half a lap left in Sydney he was staring at Kenyan Paul Tergat’s muscular rump as it roared off into the distance and on to imminent gold. The game was up, but no panic. The Emperor of Ethiopia simply kicked on and reeled Tergat in at the line. Like a leopard hunting gazelle, if you can imagine a leopard dressed in a pair of very small shorts.
71 - Shun mans up
Japanese gymnast Shun Fujimoto helped win gold in the men’s team combined competition in 1976, despite breaking one of his kneecaps. Just a flesh wound, he told himself, so kept it secret from his teammates and coach and delivered a 9.5 in the pommel horse, then a 9.7 on the rings. Alas, his twisting triple-somersault finish on the latter saw him drop eight feet to dismount. He held his finish and raised his arms, then crumpled into the arms of his coach. His Games were up, but his scores helped his teammates win gold by the narrowest of margins. Fujimoto was later asked if he would do it again. “No,” he replied.
Ouch! Watch it here
70 - Big Scheidt
In the 1996 Games, Robert Scheidt tricked a naive young Ben Ainslie into disqualification in the Laser class, thus handing the Brazilian (he’s not German) gold on a plate. Four years on, the more streetwise Brit had his revenge by ensuring Scheidt couldn’t finish the final race high enough up the field to deprive him of gold. His tactic? He simply stalled his rival by sailing round and round and round him until everyone else had finished. It may have been more complicated than that, but that’s how it looked to us.
69 - Spanish bigots
The Spanish male and female basketball teams made ‘funny’ ‘Chinese eyes’ in pre-Beijing ad campaign, then shrugged it off as a bit of knockabout fun when the inevitable shitstorm rolled in. Not the Spaniards’ only appearance on this list... and they were probably making those ‘ha-so’ noises as well, knowing them.
68 - Make mine a double-double
Munich 1972, Montreal 1976
First, the Finnish flier Lasse Viren won a coveted double in the 5,000m and 10,000m. Then he went and did it again four years later, elevating him to the pantheon of true Olympic greats. Old Father Time jiggered his hopes of repeating the trick in Moscow in 1980, but his work was already done.