A to Z of Olympics’ wackiest and wildest characters ever ahead of Tokyo Games

A to Z of Olympics’ wackiest and wildest characters ever ahead of Tokyo Games

Daily Star

It’s set to be one of the oddest Olympics in history as the Tokyo Games go ahead in Japan without any spectators and some athletes already having to self-isolate with Covid.

Yet in the course of Olympic history, there have been some pretty wacky and wild characters taking part in the events.

Here, as a quirky curtain-raiser to the sporting actions, JAMES MOORE takes a look at some of the strangest competitors…

A is for…ANGER: Cuban taekwondo athlete Angel Matos, an ­ex-gold medallist, was disqualified and banned at the 2008 Beijing Games after kicking a referee in the face. Matos had taken too long in a time-out.

B is for…BEER: At the 1968 Games in Mexico, Swedish pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall was disqualified after having a few beers before the shooting event to calm his nerves. At the 1900 marathon, French favourite Georges Touquet-Daunis stopped for a beer at a Paris café. He failed to finish!

C is for…CHAMPAGNE: Britain’s Charles Hefferon lost out on the marathon gold medal at the 1908 London Games after stopping to swig a glass of bubbly given to him by a ­spectator. In the same race, exhausted “winner” Dorando Pietri was disqualified after being helped over the line.

D is for…DRUGS: Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson was stripped of his 100m gold medal from the 1988 Seoul Olympics after being caught out for doping offences.

E is for…ERIC THE EEL: Eric Moussambani, from Equatorial Guinea, earned this nickname at the 2000 Sydney Games after winning a 100m freestyle heat in a record slow Olympic time – the other competitors were disqualified.

F is for…FENCING FRAUD: Soviet modern pentathlete Boris Onishchenko was chucked out of the 1976 Olympics for hiding a device in his weapon that recorded hits without him touching his opponent.

G is for…GUN GREAT: Hungarian Karoly Takacs won gold for 25m rapid fire shooting in 1948 and 1952 despite losing his right firing arm in a grenade blast during army training. He had learned to use his left instead.

H is for…HAIR: In 1956, American ­bantamweight weight-lifter Charles Vinci found ­himself 200 grams overweight just 15 minutes before the weigh-in. A quick haircut was just enough to allow him to compete and win gold in Melbourne, Australia.

I is for…INJURY: US diver Greg Louganis went on to win gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics despite dramatically hitting his head on the springboard during the early rounds, suffering concussion and having to have stitches in his head.

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