The Greatest Olympic Stories Ever Told

The Olympic games are as much about humanity and sportsmanship as they’re about winning, well at least for every other country besides the United States, China and Russia. The Olympics were created to bring the world together and in many ways it still does. And, like any cross-culture gathering held in one designated location over a long period, it can be a proverbial shit show, which make for excellent theatre, unforgettable stories, and classic moments.

Javelin Thrower Racks Up Medal Count
If they handed out gold medals for being a cocksman, Breaux Greer would have taken home more golds at the 2000 Athens Games than his home country. One of the greatest American javelin throwers and Olympic cocksman of all time bragged to ESPN, in a must-read expose on the horny Olympic village, that he was sleeping with three different women every single day, “Even if their face is seven, their body is a 20.” he (in)famously quotes. Okay, not exactly a smooth talker, but he’s obviously good with a pole. Interestingly, Greer nailed Athens' longest throw in the prelims, but had to pull out of the competition (the jokes write themselves) when a knee injury sidelined him.

The Greatest Game Nobody Saw
As the latest Dream Team sets out to win gold in Rio we can’t help but remember the OGs from the 1992 Barcelona Games. The names read like the Mount Rushmore of basketball (MJ, Magic, Larry Bird) and many believe it was the greatest assemblage of talent ever, with a roster that consisting of 11 Hall of Famers and Christian Laettner. After setting up shop for training camp in Monaco (coincidentally Europe’s Las Vegas-style gambling capital) The Dreamers proceeded to lay siege to the city’s booze, women, and cards. Not to be outdone by the on-court talent, badass-in-his-own-right coach Chuck Daly ingeniously devised the now-legendary intrasquad scrimmage at the team’s training court after a lackluster warm-up game against France. With Magic and Jordan playing alpha dogs, the roster was divided into two teams, Blue (led by Johnson, with Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Chris Mullin, and Christian Laettner) and White (led by Jordan, with Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, and Bird). The White team won in a fantasy game we can only recreate on NBA Live, 40 to 36 after the competition got so fierce there was serious concern about injury and the game was called. Air Jordan remembers it as "the best game I was ever in,” but unfortunately, no one has been able to see the un-televised scrimmage until a 4-minute clip of it appeared in a recent Dream Team documentary, which you can watch here.

Olympic Marathoner Buzzes to Victory
The tale of the first Olympic star sounds like the plot to a Wes Anderson movie. Jason Schwartzman would star as Spyridon Louis, a Greek water-carrier with an ironic mustache, who won the first modern-day Olympic marathon at the 1896 Summer Olympics. Spyridon was a long-shot going into the race and things were looking bleak as he fell behind the favorite, Frenchmen Albin Lermusiaux. Spyridon, who had grown up in poor village with no central water, had remarkable endurance after years of carting water back and forth during the hot Greek summers. About ten kilometers before the end of the race, Spyridon stopped in the town of Piekrmi to quench his thirst and instead of drinking water, he pounded some wine. Towards the finish line, Lermusiaux dropped out from exhaustion, while Spyridon hit his stride, buzzing by him to win the race and become a national hero. Upon winning, the king of Greece granted him one wish, the humble Spyridon simply asked for a cart, making it easier to transport his water. Oscar gold, baby.

Lawrence Lemieux Wins At Life
Canadians get a lot of shit, mainly for no other reason than they’re known as our chill neighbors to the north and they produced Justin Bieber. Well, leave it to a Canadian athlete to go down as one of the greatest Olympians ever despite not taking home any medals. At the 1988 Games in Seoul, Canadian sailor Lawrence Lemieux was navigating the six foot waves like he was Ahab. Then, halfway through the race, when it was smooth sailing for the medal stand, he heard the cries of two Singaporean sailors competing in a different event nearby. One of them was clinging desperately to his boat, which had capsized under the rough waters. The other sailor was being swept away by the currents. Instead of going for gold, Lemieux set course for the sailors and pulled them out of the water. A Korean Navy boat came and took the sailors, allowing Lemieux to finish the race, placing 22nd out of 32 competitors. He lost out on a medal, but had won in the game of life. Later, The Olympic committee gave him the Pierre de Coubertin medal for sportsmanship, which has been given to only 12 athletes. When asked if he would have made the same choice, Lemieux stated, “The first rule of sailing is, you see someone in trouble, you help him.” Bravo sir, bravo.

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