27 Things You Didn’t Know About the Olympics

As you sit down to watch the opening ceremonies with friends, TIME gives you a crib sheet of little-known Olympics facts-- from what's a Fosbury Flop to who the youngest Olympian ever is-- to score you the title of Smartest Person in the Room

  • Share
  • Read Later
AFP / Getty Images

American high jump champion Dick Fosbury clears the bar during practice, October 10, 1968 in Mexico.

1.) 2,400 The estimated number of soccer balls that will be used during the London 2012 Games

2.) 2,000+ Number of athletes who will compete in track and field, the largest sport at the Olympic Games

3.) Munich 1972 The year the 100-m hurdles were introduced

4.) Pumped up kicks Hurdles, at 2 ft., 9-in. (0.838 m) high, are designed to fall forward if an athlete hits one

5.) Oddest term for a maneuver The back-to-the-bar technique in the high jump is called the Fosbury Flop, in honor of 1968 gold medalist Dick Fosbury, who introduced it

6.) What’s in a heptathlon  The sport has seven events—the 100-m hurdles, the 200-m dash, the 800-m run, high jump, javelin, long jump and shot put

7.) 210 The number of athletes will take part in the three women’s gymnastics disciplines: artistic, rhythmic and trampoline

8.) No more perfect-10s The top score was eliminated in 2006, replaced by open-ended scoring to reward more difficult, skills-packed gymnastic routines

9.) 1952 The first Games in which women were allowed to compete as individuals in gymnastics, so we can now name-check stars like Mary Lou Retton and Olga Korbut

10.)  Keeping score In gymnastics, women compete on four apparatuses: beam, uneven bars, vault and floor. Men compete on six: floor, vault, parallel bars, rings, high bar and pommel horse

11.) High beams Perhaps the most precarious apparatus for female gymnasts, the women perform backflips on a beam the width of a typical house brick

12.) Second oddest sports terms A twisting double somersault is called a “fliffis,” while a triple is called a “triffis”

13.) Leap of faith Trampoline athletes reach heights of up to 33 feet (10 m) during their jumps

14.) Most pain tolerance Male Gymnast Shun Fujimoto competed in Montreal in 1976 despite having a broken kneecap; his effort helped the Japanese team win gold

15.) Most decorated Olympian Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who won 18 medals from 1956 to ’64

16.) Top and tail There are two styles in Olympic wrestling—Greco-Roman, in which athletes are allowed to use only their upper bodies and arms, and freestyle, in which all parts of the body may be used

17.) 186 Number of consecutive wrestling matches won by Japan’s freestyle wrestler Osamu Watanabe in Tokyo 1964. He not only won gold; he also ended his career undefeated

18.) 11 hours The length of the longest Olympic match in wrestling history, between two middleweight contenders, Russia’s Martin Klein and Finland’s ­Alfred Asikainen, grappling for a place in the finals at Stockholm 1912. (Klein won)

19.) Surprise ending Rowing is one of the only sports whose competitors, with their backs to the finish line, do not have the end of the race in sight

20.) Youngest Olympic champion A 12-year-old French boy who coxed for a Dutch pair at the 1900 Games is the youngest Olympic champion ever. Shortly after the victory ceremony, he disappeared, his identity unknown

21.) Third oddest sports term The term for what happens when a rower loses control of an oar and does not remove it from the water at the end of the stroke, thereby causing the oar to act as a brake, is called Catching a Crab

22.) Deep breathing Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond claims to have recorded one of the highest V02-max rates ever, 93%. We’ll never know how he would have done at the Olympics—the California-born cyclist missed his lone shot at a medal when the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games

23.) Open water In the first modern Olympics, back in 1896, swimmers competed by diving off the side of a yacht and racing toward shore

24.) Smooth moves In weightlifting, the clean and jerk involves a lift of the bar to shoulder height, then above the head, whereas the snatch is one clean movement

25.) Lighten up If there is a tie in weightlifting, the body weight of the lifter is used to determine who wins, with victory going to the lighter athlete

26.) 581 lbs (263.5 kg) The heaviest Olympic lift ever, by Hossein Rezazadeh of Iran in 2004

27.) Many hats Harold Sakata won silver at London 1948 for weightlifting, but he was more famous for a different performance: playing Oddjob in the James Bond film Goldfinger

0 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,267 other followers