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  • Most surprising Olympic winner

    In my younger years, before I started subscribing to TFN, I was occasionally very surprised by Olympic champions I had barely heard of. More recently, well there have been surprise winners (Tarasov, Zmehlik, Patoulidou, etc.) but never anybody I hadn't heard of. That's why to me the biggest upset winners are:

    Josy Barthel
    Norman Read
    Robert Shavlakadze
    Billy Mills
    Ulrike Meyfarth

    Who do you think were the most unheralded Olympic champions?

  • #2
    Originally posted by noone View Post
    In my younger years, before I started subscribing to TFN, I was occasionally very surprised by Olympic champions I had barely heard of. More recently, well there have been surprise winners (Tarasov, Zmehlik, Patoulidou, etc.) but never anybody I hadn't heard of. That's why to me the biggest upset winners are:

    Robert Shavlakadze


    Who do you think were the most unheralded Olympic champions?
    He was No. 4 in the World Rankings in '59, so was hardly a shock.

    Fosbury was much more so.

    Comment


    • #3
      Abebe Bikila was never world ranked before he won the marathon at the 1960 Olympics.

      Comment


      • #4
        I would still vote for Billy Mills!
        Another might have been Peter Snell in 1960, when he wasn't given a chance in the 800m

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        • #5
          Originally posted by tandfman View Post
          Abebe Bikila was never world ranked before he won the marathon at the 1960 Olympics.
          And barefoot no less...

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          • #6
            It's a good question and there have been more than one in the history of the Games. Billy Mills will probably always be my favorite. Off the top of my head (bottom of my head has nothing to offer) I will say Duncan McNaughton, the Canadian high jumper in Los Angeles (1932), Harrison Dillard winning the 1948 London 100, Horace Ashenfelter in the steeplechase in Helsinki (1952), Jerome Biffle winning the long jump at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, Colette Besson in the women's 400 in Mexico City (1968), and Voula Patoulidou winning the women's 100 hurdles in Barcelona in 1992. I'm sure I'm missing others, but that's it for now.

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            • #7
              I was gonna write something earlier, but my wife called on me do do some chores, so it got delayed. I had 4 picks. Ashenfelter, Snell & Bikila were 3 of them. Only one left out there is Lindy Remigino.

              Comment


              • #8
                Allen Woodring in '20. He was fifth at the US Trials! Have to agree with the McNaughton pick, though; If he'd competed at the US Trials, he probably would not have been favored to place as high as fifth. Also, Amos Biwott.

                Overall, 2004 was a really surprising Olympics. Not sure if there was any one hugely massive shocker, but a lot of winners who were sort-of-known yet a really really long way from being the favorite. Nesterenko stands out as the most memorable.

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                • #9
                  This thread starts out with: "In my younger years" but I will finish it by stating: "In my older years" there was only one surprise upset that could match Billy Mills upset in an Olympic gold medal performance.

                  The name is BRIGADIER GENERAL ARNOLD NUGENT STRODE STRODE-JACKSON. Cordner Nelson and Roberto Quercetani described it as "the greatest race ever run". His upset victory is listed as one of the 20th Century's 100 GREATEST ATHLETIC COMPETIONS. With those credentials written in stone by the "experts" cannot be matched by anyone since. That would be my biased opinion..

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                  • #10
                    More on Strode-Jackson here: https://thelionandunicorn.wordpress....rnold-jackson/

                    Remarkable race, remarkable man.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by J Rorick View Post
                      I was gonna write something earlier, but my wife called on me do do some chores, so it got delayed. I had 4 picks. Ashenfelter, Snell & Bikila were 3 of them. Only one left out there is Lindy Remigino.
                      Lindy Remigino was who I would choose as the biggest upset

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                      • #12
                        Well, the trouble with choosing Lindy, is that if an athlete makes the US Olympic team in the sprints, he can't be considered a big upset -and we are talking really, really, really big upset. Snell s a good choice. He was virtually unheard of outside New Zealand/Australia. But Bikila was a huge upset on a number of levels. For a start, it was generally agreed up to his win that black athletes were no good at distance running ( and you could produce statistics to "prove" that ). Even, athletes in the Rome marathon would have considered a black athlete as having no chance; Indeed, there's the often repeated story about one of the New Zealand runners in that race. While the athletes were milling around before the start ( and the start wasn't in the stadium) the New Zealander saw a bare-footed black athlete having a pee in a gutter, and he thought to himself. " Well, there's at least one athlete I don't have to worry about."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by midwestfan View Post
                          This thread starts out with: "In my younger years" but I will finish it by stating: "In my older years" there was only one surprise upset that could match Billy Mills upset in an Olympic gold medal performance.

                          The name is BRIGADIER GENERAL ARNOLD NUGENT STRODE STRODE-JACKSON. Cordner Nelson and Roberto Quercetani described it as "the greatest race ever run". His upset victory is listed as one of the 20th Century's 100 GREATEST ATHLETIC COMPETIONS. With those credentials written in stone by the "experts" cannot be matched by anyone since. That would be my biased opinion..
                          Good answer, midwestfan. Cordner and I use to talk about the 1912 Olympic 1,500. He said it was the first great Olympic 1,500. It was the first time five men went under four minutes in one race and the winner was pretty much in doubt until the finish.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by FrankS View Post
                            Well, the trouble with choosing Lindy, is that if an athlete makes the US Olympic team in the sprints, he can't be considered a big upset -and we are talking really, really, really big upset. Snell s a good choice. He was virtually unheard of outside New Zealand/Australia. But Bikila was a huge upset on a number of levels. For a start, it was generally agreed up to his win that black athletes were no good at distance running ( and you could produce statistics to "prove" that ). Even, athletes in the Rome marathon would have considered a black athlete as having no chance; Indeed, there's the often repeated story about one of the New Zealand runners in that race. While the athletes were milling around before the start ( and the start wasn't in the stadium) the New Zealander saw a bare-footed black athlete having a pee in a gutter, and he thought to himself. " Well, there's at least one athlete I don't have to worry about."
                            That was Barry Magee, eventual; bronze medalist.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by gh View Post

                              He was No. 4 in the World Rankings in '59, so was hardly a shock.

                              Fosbury was much more so.
                              I'm sure you're right, Garry. It's just that in 1960 I assumed John Thomas was unbeatable, and Valeri Brumel (who if I remember correctly had jumped an European record 2.18 earlier in the summer) the only challenger.

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