10 little-known stories about the Olympics

As the 2012 Olympics play out in London, David Wallechinsky’s latest book The Complete Book of the Olympics, 2012 Edition, provides some great finds about past Games.

7. Preparing for humidity


British race walker Donald Thompson devised a most unusual regimen leading up to the 1960 Rome Games, training in a tightly closed bathroom heated to 100 degrees Fahrenheit by paraffin heaters and boiling-hot kettles. Four years earlier, in Melbourne, he had collapsed and failed to finish the grueling 50,000-meter event, so he wanted to be well prepared for potentially hot and humid weather in Rome. He kept his workouts to half an hour, which was a good thing, because later he realized that carbon monoxide emitted by the heater posed a danger. The race itself began in 87 degree heat and Thompson pulled away to win the 31 miles race by 17 seconds in an Olympic record time of 4:25:30.0.

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