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A Bolt out of the blue

Steven Lynch July 23, 2012
Usain Bolt is one of eight men to complete the sprint double © PA Photos

Will Usain Bolt be the first to do the sprint double twice if he manages it in London? asked Darren Walker

That's quite a big if, given the recent form of Bolt's Jamaican team-mate Yohan Blake and his own injury worries. But if he can pull off the 100/200m sprint double, then Bolt will indeed be the first athlete to do it twice. Carl Lewis is the only man ever to defend the 100m title successfully - and even then it needed the disqualification of Ben Johnson in 1988 for him to do so. No man has ever successfully defended the 200m title at the Olympics. Turning to the women, the Americans Wyomia Tyus (1964-68) and Gail Devers (1992-96) successfully defended the Olympic 100m title, while Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown has won the last two 200m golds. The only woman before her to defend it successfully was Barbel Eckert-Wockel of East Germany (1976-80). In Beijing in 2008 Usain Bolt was the eighth man to complete the sprint double, following Archie Hahn (1904), Ralph Craig (1912), Percy Williams (1928), Eddie Tolan (1932), Jesse Owens (1936), Bobby Joe Morrow (1956), Valeriy Borzov (1972) and Carl Lewis (1984). The women's double has been achieved by Fanny Blankers-Koen (1948), Marjorie Jackson (1952), Betty Cuthbert (1956), Wilma Rudolph (1960), Renate Stecher (1972) and the ill-fated Florence Griffith-Joyner (1988). Of all these, the East German Stecher probably came closest to retaining her titles: as defending champion in 1976 she was second (by five-hundredths of a second) in the 100m and third in the 200.

Who is the most famous person to light the Olympic flame? asked Gerry Field

I suppose that depends on your definition of fame, but it would be hard to beat Muhammad Ali, the legendary boxer - and 1960 Olympic light-heavyweight gold medallist - who lit the flame in Atlanta in 1996. The only flame-lighter who went on to win gold at the same Olympics was the Australian 400m runner Cathy Freeman, at Sydney in 2000.

When were the gold and silver medallists in an Olympic event all twins? asked Nick McDonald

This confusing podium was seen in the rowing events in Moscow in 1980, when the coxless pairs was won by the East German Landvoigt twins, Bernd and Jorg, ahead of the Russian twins Nikolai and Yuri Pimenov. The unrelated Britons Malcolm Carmichael and Charles Wiggin took the bronze medals. The Landvoigts were the defending champions, having taken the title in Montreal in 1976 ahead of the interesting-sounding American pair of (Calvin) Coffey and (Michael) Staines.

Whose record for Olympic gold medals does Michael Phelps stand to beat? asked Michael Jerling

The phenomenal American swimmer Michael Phelps actually holds the record for the most Olympic gold medals already - he's won 14 so far, well ahead of another swimmer in Mark Spitz, the track and field athletes Paavo Nurmi and Carl Lewis, and the Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who all won nine. The record Phelps stands to break in London, where he is gunning for seven more golds, is the one for the most medals of any colour: he currently has 16 - two bronzes in addition to those 14 golds from 2004 and 2008 - which puts him two behind Latynina, who won 18 in all (nine gold, five silver and four bronze) between 1956 and 1964.

Which competitor has taken part in the most Olympic Games? asked Peter Curtis

This record should be broken in London, where the 65-year-old Canadian show-jumper Ian Millar is set to take part in his tenth Games. He has competed in each Olympics since 1972, except 1980 when Canada boycotted the Moscow Games. In 2008 Millar collected his only medal so far, a silver, in the team show-jumping event at Beijing. Before London 2012, Millar shared the appearances record of nine with the Austrian yachtsman Hubert Raudaschl, who collected two silver medals - in a Finn Class yacht in 1968 and a Star in 1980 - during a career that stretched from the 1964 Games in Tokyo to 1996 in Atlanta. The British record is six appearances, by the fencer Bill Hoskyns (1956-76) and javelin thrower Tessa Sanderson (1976-96).

Have Great Britain ever won the gold medal for football at the Olympics? asked Jamie Morris

Britain actually share the record for winning the Olympic soccer gold on the most occasions, having won it in 1900, 1908 and 1912. Hungary equalled that hat-trick by winning in 1952, 1964 and 1968. But 2012 will see the first appearance by a British team at the Games since 1960, largely because of worries that entering a combined side might compromise the ability of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to enter separate teams in FIFA competitions. The British winners in Paris in 1900 were Upton Park - not to be confused with West Ham United, a separate if nearby team known at the time as Thames Ironworks!

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