Cambridge Olympic trivia

Did you know…?


When Cambridge University Athletics Club were sent a copy of the competition rules for the 1896 Olympic Games, what was odd about it?

It was a French version that was never officially recognised and so should not have been distributed.



How many Cambridge alumni were awarded 'honorary Gold medals' at the 1924 Winter Olympic Games by Pierre de Coubertin himself, in recognition of their alpinist achievements? Who were they?

The four men were George Mallory (though he was not able to attend the award ceremony), Colin Crawford, John Morris and Arthur Wakefield, in addition to the other participants of the 1922 Everest expedition. In March this year the BBC reported on plans to take Wakefield's medal to the summit, commemorating the expedition leader's pledge upon receiving the prize in 1924.



Which Cambridge Olympian is also a punting champion? There are some clues available online, courtesy of Intersport Images

Mike Hart (Peterhouse 1970), a silver medal-winning rower and member of a punting club in Thames Ditton.



Who is the runner in the clip below and what were his connections to/in the University?



Dr John Mark (Medicine, Jesus 1945), London 1948 cauldron lighter allegedly selected by the BOA for his looks. Compared to the three British Olympic athletes considered likely to be chosen for this role, Dr Mark was not well-known outside of Oxbridge athletic circles, having been President of the Cambridge University Athletics Club.



Which of the Cambridge past Olympians is known as Britain’s fastest ever Olympic competitor? What was notable about his final Olympic performance in 2002?

Mark Hatton (St John’s) – luge 2002 and 2006, at the latter of which he was the highest placed slider from a nation without a track.



Who is Cambridge's most famous Chinese Olympian?

Deng Yaping (Land Economy PhD, Jesus) – four times Olympic gold medallist in table tennis, Chinese female athlete of the century and member of the International Table Tennis Federation’s Hall of Fame.



Where and when was the most famous Olympic Torch prank, what was it that kept the false flame burning and what was the un-related (to the trick, at least) injury that befell the cauldron lighter at that Games’ Opening Ceremony?

Clue: there’s not much of a Cantabrigian link in this one, we admit – Cambridge can only claim a College of the same name.


The Sydney leg of the 1956 Olympic Torch Relay (Melbourne Games) fell victim to a hoax torch bearer with a fake torch made from a chair leg, a plum pudding tin and underpants soaked in kerosene.

Barry Larkin, named years later as the false runner, was then studying to be a veterinary surgeon at St John’s College, Sydney, and along with some fellow students he disagreed with the amount of reverence with which the Olympic Flame was treated.

The cauldron lighter for the 1956 Melbourne Games, Ron Clarke, burned his forearm as he lit the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony.