World’s Strangest

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A Brief History of Olympic Defectors

Getty Images For some athletes, the Olympics aren’t just a competition: they’re a chance to escape oppression. Earlier this week, seven of Cameroon’s athletes disappeared from London’s Olympic Village. The week before, three runners from Sudan’s Olympic training squad filed for asylum in Britain. Here’s a look at some other Olympic defections. 1948 Summer Olympics: London Marie Provaznikova, [...]

6 Olympians Who Don’t Keep Their Medals in a Sock Drawer

For being such rare, magical creatures, gold medals seem to get second-rate treatment once they land in the hands of Olympians. You’d be surprised how many athletes either misplace them or shove them in a sock drawer. Here are a few athletes who got a little more creative with theirs. 1. Carl Lewis: His Father’s [...]

The First Amputee to Qualify for the Olympics

Getty Images Oscar Pistorius is one of the best stories of the 2012 London Games. Yesterday, the South African double amputee advanced to the semi-finals of the men’s 400-meters. He’ll also compete in the 4×400-meter relay. Pistorius, who runs on specially designed carbon-fiber prosthetics called Cheetahs, is the first amputee to compete in track at the [...]

5 Olympians Who Sold Their Gold Medals

You wouldn’t know it with all of the hype surrounding the Olympics right now, but there are things more important than winning a gold medal. Just ask these athletes, who had good reason to sell their hard-earned precious metal. 1. Mark Wells, U.S. 1980 Hockey Getty Images You might wonder how an Olympic athlete could part with any gold [...]

5 Olympians Who Sold Their Medals

You wouldn’t know it with all of the hype surrounding the Olympics right now, but there are things more important than winning a gold medal. Just ask these athletes, who had good reason to sell their hard-earned precious metal. 1. Mark Wells, U.S. 1980 Hockey You might wonder how an Olympic athlete could part with any gold medal, [...]

How Much Gold is in a Gold Medal?

On our last semi-regular “Ask Matt” day, reader Mel asked, “Are there standards for just how much gold is in those gold medals these Olympic athletes are getting?” Getty Images The amount of gold in medals is indeed regulated, and there’s a lot less than there used to be. The prizes awarded at the Olympics have varied over [...]

Why Do Olympians Wear That Colorful Tape?

Getty Images You may have first noticed the markings on the synchronized swimmers’ backs. Or cascading down a beach volleyball player’s chiseled abs. Birthmarks? Accessories? A bizarre form of intimidation? No, no, and no. The answer is Kinesio tape. And, yes, it’s all the rage in the sports world. So, what is this tricked-out injury treatment? It’s [...]

The Time They Used a Cigarette Lighter to Light the Olympic Torch

Getty Images When it comes to the Olympic Flame, its keepers take no chances. Multiple backup sources are lit from the torch so that if the original goes out (which isn’t totally uncommon), it can be reignited using the same fire. But what happens when the Flame goes out and the backups are nowhere to be [...]

NBC Paid $1.2 Billion to Broadcast the London Olympics. Where Does That Money Go?

Dave Hogan/NBC NBC paid the International Olympic Committee a record $1.18 billion for the U.S. broadcast rights to the 2012 London Games and $4.38 billion for the four Olympics from 2014-2020. What does the IOC do with all that cash? According to the IOC’s Olympic Marketing Fact File: The IOC distributes over 90% of Olympic marketing revenue to [...]

11 Notable Medalists in the Olympic Art Competitions

We’ve been taking a look back at the fine art competitions that originated in ancient Greece and were revived as part of the modern Olympics from 1912 to 1948. Here are a few of the more notable medalists over the years. 1. Baron Pierre de Coubertin The founder of the International Olympic Committee and the man [...]