Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The Stories of the Craziest Mistakes at the Olympic Games | Strangest Moments

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We all know that mistakes happen,

and on the greatest stage of all,

that can be a bitter pill to swallow.

Whilst it might be common to see athletes make mistakes

at the Olympics, it's not very often that you see blunders

from the people running the show.

But they can be just as prone to mistakes as everyone else.

Take Helsinki 1952, for example.

The 1,500 metres that year had an extremely talented field.

German Werner Lueg was the joint world record holder

and looked certain for victory.

There was a young British man named Roger Bannister

in the field as well.

He'd go on to be the first person to run

a mile in under four minutes.

Everyone was surprised, then,

when Joseph Barthel stormed to take the lead.

Barthel was from the tiny European duchy of Luxembourg.

Luxembourg isn't really famous for its sporting prowess.

There aren't many people in Luxembourg either.

Today, the population of the country is 500,000.

Back in 1952, it was about half that amount.

So it was more than a little surprising to see Barthel

racing to Luxembourg's first gold medal.

Nobody was as surprised as the members of the band, though.

They really hadn't expected a Luxembourg win

and they didn't have a clue

what the Luxembourg national anthem sounded like.

No-one quite knows what the band DID play.

But the occasion was enough to reduce Barthel to tears.

Whether that was down to the emotion of the occasion

or the band's attempt at the anthem

remains open to interpretation.

The Olympic Games has always been keen on experimentation.

Sports are added at every Games,

with some proving more popular than others.

Basketball was first introduced as an official Olympic sport

back in 1936, after it had been a demonstration sport

at the 1904 Games.

As the sport was still in its infancy,

the German organisers were not exactly sure what was required.

Rather than the traditional indoor courts, players were

a little confused to find themselves

on a converted tennis court.

Playing on a mixture of sand and clay

made dribbling almost impossible,

which in turn made scoring points unusually difficult.

There was bad weather the night before the match

between the USA and Canada in the final.

The players found it hard enough to run,

let alone dribble.

It was total chaos. The final score?

19-8 to the USA, which has the dubious honour of being

the lowest ever score at a complete Olympic match.

It's not always the organiser's fault

when things go wrong, though.

For the Melbourne Games in 1956,

the Olympic torch was due to pass through

future Olympic city Sydney.

The scheduled torch-carrier that morning was running late.

So it was with much relief for the gathered crowds

when they saw the torch-runner finally appear.

There, carried by a young man, came the great Olympic torch.

The torch was passed on and the Mayor prepared

to give his speech.

It was then that somebody mentioned to the Mayor

there was something wrong with the torch.

Rather than the majestic Olympic torch

the crowds had been expecting,

prankster Barry Larkin

had brought something unexpected.

G'day, kids.

So, on Make With Barry Larkin today,

we're going to be showing you

how you can make your very own Olympic torch.

Now, the usual Olympic torch is a handcrafted thing of beauty

transporting a flame lit in the ancient site of Greece

all the way to the Olympic venue.

But what we're going to use today is a chair leg.

All right, so, you stick your can on it here.

Oh, yeah, we've got the basis of a pretty good torch here!

Of course, we don't have the Flame of Olympus with us,

so instead we're going to use some of Keith's underwear.

- G'day, Keith. - G'day.

Ha! Now, Keith, are these clean underwear?

Not really, mate.

Well, folks, I would suggest

clean underwear at the very least.

Anyway...

There you have it. Your very own Olympic torch.

Ha!

Luckily, the ruse was quickly discovered

and the real Olympic torch passed

through the city without further incident.

All's well that ends well.

But the fact remains -

for one beautiful moment in 1956,

the people of Sydney lined the streets

to gaze in hushed awe

at a pair of flaming underpants.

And that's the legacy left by Barry Larkin,

the original Olympic prankster.

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