Today marks the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, and here at StumbleUpon, we couldn’t be more excited. Hopefully you’ve also been getting into the competitive spirit with our posts earlier this week on fitness myths and nutrition advice. We decided to honor today’s festivities with 10 unusual facts that you may or may not know about the Olympic Games, from the past to the present.
1. Every Olympics has an official mascot, and they’re not your typical eagles, tigers or bulldogs. In fact, most of them are rather odd. This year’s mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville, meant to represent the last drops of steel used to build the Olympic Stadium, are no exception.
2. Usain Bolt is a proud papa…to a cheetah! Bolt adopted an abandoned baby cheetah (fittingly named “Lightning Bolt”) in 2009, and continues to sponsor its care in an orphanage in Nairobi. Hmm…wonder who’s faster?
3. What do Giorgio Armani, Adidas and Stella McCartney have in common? They’ve all designed national team uniforms for the Opening Ceremony. Sporting everything from berets to fedoras, this year’s athletes will certainly be dressed to impress.
4. History will be made this year when double-amputee Oscar Pistorius runs for South Africa in the individual 400 meters and the 4×400 meter relay. Pistorius will be the first amputee ever to compete in track and field at the Olympics.
5. Hopefully he’ll fare better than Charles Hefferon, a fellow South African runner who competed in the Marathon in the 1908 Summer Olympics. Hefferon was in the lead until, with just a few miles to go, he drank a glass of champagne offered to him by a well-meaning fan. He promptly slowed down and was overtaken by other runners. Lesson learned: don’t drink and run!
7. Are moustaches lucky? The night before his first race at the 1972 Olympic Games, legendary swimming champ Mark Spitz almost decided to shave off his famous moustache. However, a Russian coach started giving him a hard time about sporting facial hair, so Spitz joked that the moustache made him swim faster by keeping water away from his mouth. Spitz kept the ‘stache, went on to win 7 gold medals at the Games, and at the next Olympics, all the Russian swimmers were sporting moustaches.
8. The iconic Olympic rings were designed to symbolize the five inhabited continents of the world (Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Americas), linked together by the Olympic spirit. At least one of the rings’ colors (blue, yellow, black, green and red, with a white background) are present in every participating country’s national flag.
9. The longest wrestling match of all time took place at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, between Russia’s Martin Klein and Finland’s Alfred Asikainen. The match lasted a grueling 11 hours and 40 minutes! Klein eventually emerged the victor, but he was so drained from the fight that he was unable to compete for the gold medal the next day, and walked away with the silver.
10. You may still not know what the heck curling is, but that’s nothing compared to some of the very strange sports that have made it into the Olympics in the past. Our personal favorites? Definitely poodle clipping and delivery van driving.
And that’s just a start! For more fun facts, you can explore many Summer Olympics sports on StumbleUpon:
Photo courtesy of Flickr.