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Fourth-Place Medal

Great Olympic Events of Yore: 100-meter freestyle for sailors

Fourth-Place Medal

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In the first modern Olympics, three regular swimming events were contested: the 100-meter freestyle, 400-meter freestyle and 1500-meter freestyle. Despite dominating the overall medal count, host Greece was denied gold in each of those races, so they channeled their inner-Donaghy and rigged an event to ensure a win. And, thus, the 100-meter freestyle for sailors was born.

The event, which was only contested at the first Olympics, was limited to members of the Greek navy. (Note: No evidence suggests that this event was actually created to pad the Greek medal total, but being of Greek descent myself, I can ensure you that this is something my people totally would have done.) Three men entered, with Ioannis Malokinis taking the gold with a time of 2:20.4. That time was almost a full minute slower than the 1:22.2 (by Hungary's Arnold Guttmann) that won the regular, non-sailor 100-meter freestyle race. I guess that means if you were on a shipwreck with members of the Greek navy in 1896, you wouldn't have had much trouble out-swimming them to the nearest lifeboat.

In this era of dwindling attention spans, highly individualized Olympic events like the 100-meter freestyle for sailors might be just what the IOC needs in order to spruce up the Games. Some suggestions for possible events:

  • Weightlifting for ex-convicts
  • Fencing with inflatable swords from McDonald's Happy Meals
  • Yachting for dudes named Blake or Connor
  • Freestyle wrestling for freestyle rappers
  • Rowing: Men's lightweight four-oared shell without coxswain (oh... wait)

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