Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bizarre Olympic Moment - Day 2

Each day of the 2008 Olympics we're going to find a bizarre clip or story from a past Summer Olympics. Today we'll look at runner Betty Robinson.

Yesterday, we showed you a bizarre moment from the pool at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Today we go to the track and there will be no video clip as our moment is from the 1928 games in Amsterdam . It must be one of the most insane stories I’ve ever heard.

In 1928, Betty Robinson, was running for a train when the track coach at her high school saw her and convinced her to join the track team. Three weeks later she made her debut and finished second to the US record holder. In her next meet she equaled the world record of 12.0 seconds. In just her third meet she qualified for the American Olympic team, at just 16 years old.

The IOC was forced to include women’s events in the 1928 Olympics, making it the first time female track and field athletes were allowed to compete. Just four months after she was discovered and with only three meets under her belt, she sailed to Amsterdam to compete in the games.

The 100-meter race was first up. Robinson ended up winning a very close race … making her the very first female track medalist in Olympic history.

A nice story up to this point but this is where things get crazy.

In 1931, still a top athlete, Robinson was involved in a plane crash. The man who found her body thought she was dead, put her in his car boot and drove her to a mortician - but she was still alive, in a coma. She woke seven months later, and spent six months in a wheelchair. It took her two years to learn to walk normally again.

''If I had not been in such good physical condition,'' Robinson said, ''I would not have lived through it.''

Incredibly, she eventually returned to racing. Unable to bend her legs fully, she couldn't adopt a sprinter's crouch. But she could still run the relay, and in 1936 she won her second gold in the 4x100m. Completing one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.

(The information for this article was taken from articles in the New York Times and The Guardian.)

Take a look at the 16 most bizarre Olympic moments in history:

Day 1 - Eric "The Eel" Moussambani
Day 2 - Betty Robinson
Day 3 - Sally Robbins
Day 4 - Abebe Bilkila
Day 5 - 1972 USA Basketball team
Day 6 - Bobby Pearce
Day 7 - Byun Jong-il
Day 8 - Stella Walsh
Day 9 - Spanish Paralympic Basketball Team
Day 10 - Ingeborg Marx
Day 11 - Vanderlei de Lima
Day 12 - Hans-Jurgen Todt
Day 13 - Liu Changchun
Day 14 - Dorando Pietri
Day 15 - 1956 Hungarian Water Polo Team
Day 16 - 1960 Tunisian Modern Pentathlon Team

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