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Seoul 1988

On 24 September 1988, Ben Johnson proudly signed the finish line photo from the 100 m final held at midday. He wrongly believed he was the Olympic champion – and in a world record time of 9.79 seconds. Three days later, the Canadian was disqualified for doping and Carl Lewis signed a new OMEGA finish line photo.

ANECDOTE

The inglorious end of Jürgen Hingsen's career

The Adonis Jürgen Hingsen (born 25 January 1958) became the “stupidest athlete in Germany”. At least that is how one German tabloid described him after the former crown prince of the decathlon was disqualified from the Olympic competition before he had run a single metre. Hingsen had been responsible for four false starts in the 100 m sprint; only three were allowed in the decathlon. One of them had wrongly been assigned to Soviet athlete Pawel Tarnowezki after the starter misread the time print-out. Hingsen pretended to be horrified. “It’s tragic, it should not happen,” he wrote. He had earlier asked the starter to check his reaction time again. But it was clear: 0.099. On the last occasion, Hingsen had left the starting blocks 1/1000th of a second too early. “I was sure I had started correctly,” he said. On that morning on 28 September 1988, Hingsen’s career came to an inglorious end in the Olympic stadium in Seoul. Between 1982 and 1984, he had broken the world decathlon record three times and finished second behind Daley Thompson in the World Championships and Olympic Games. The Briton was his biggest rival, whom he never managed to beat. It began at the European Junior Championship in 1977 and continued all the way to Seoul. Thompson had nicknamed him “Hollywood Hingsen” because of his relaxed lifestyle and his marriage to a Californian ballet dancer. The marriage lasted 21 years.

It was not just Hingsen’s career that came to an end in Seoul, it was also the end of a whole decathlon era: it was the first time since 1972 that the event had not been won by a West German athlete or by Thompson, who finished only fourth.

ANECDOTE

Swimmers split at the third attempt

Manuela Carosi (ITA) and Karen Lord (AuS) had recorded exactly the same time to the nearest 1/100th of a second in the 100 m backstroke heats. In order to determine 16th place, which meant a place in the B-final, a “swim-off” was therefore organised. Once again, both swimmers achieved the same time and it was only in the second decider that Carosi qualified by a 0.13 second margin. The two had been exactly level after 50 m… The Italian lined up in the B-final that same day and led the race after 50 m, but was overtaken by two other swimmers during the second length and finished 11th overall. Four races on the same day in the same discipline remains an Olympic record to this day.


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