Olympic love affairs
Some athletes have taken their passion for sport off the pitch...
1 Cold War Warmth: Harold Connolly and Olga Fikotová
American Harold Connolly won the 1956 hammer-throw gold medal, but gained far more international attention for his Olympic Village romance with Czechoslovakian discus champion Olga Fikotova. After a great deal of pressure, the Iron Curtain was drawn open long enough for Olga and Harold to wed. Forty thousand well-wishers attended their civil ceremony in Prague, which was followed by two more services, one Catholic and one Protestant. The couple then settled in the United States. Harold eventually took part in four Olympics and Olga in five. After they divorced in 1973 Harold married three-time Olympian Pat Daniels.
2 A Couple of Rivals: Camilla Andersen and Mia Hundvin
The first day of the Sydney 2000 women’s team handball competition saw an unusual occurrence: for the first time in Olympic history, a married couple played against each other. Three months before the Sydney Games, Camilla Andersen of Denmark and Mia Hundvin of Norway became “registered partners” in Copenhagen. As expected, Norway won the match, but Denmark came back to win the gold medals. The couple separated in 2003.
3 Taking the Plunge: Elizabeth Becker and Clarence Pinkston
Elizabeth Becker Pinkston of the United States balanced her 1924 springboard gold with first place in the platform diving four years later. Between Olympics she had married fellow American Clarence Pinkston, whom she had met when both were members of the 1924 US diving team in Paris. Husband and wife eventually won seven Olympic medals between them.
4 Royal Introduction: Iñaki Urdangarín and Princess Cristina
During the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Spanish handball star Inaki Urdangarin met Princess Cristina, daughter of King Juan Carlos of Spain, who had competed in sailing at the 1988 Olympics. The couple married in October 1997. In 2012 Urdangarin was investigated in connection with a corruption allegation in which he was accused of making millions of Euros by using his royal position to win contracts from regional governments for his non-profit foundations and then subcontracting the work to companies he oversaw.
5 Another Royal Couple: Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock
Charlene Wittstock, who swam the lead leg for South Africa in the Sydney 2000 women’s 4 × 100 meter medley relay, went on to marry Prince Albert of Monaco, the five-time bobsled Olympian and son of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier.
6 Better than a Medal: Matthew Emmons and Katerina Kurková
Matthew Emmons missed a chance to win two gold medals in a single Olympics. With a healthy three-point lead going into the final shot of the three position small-bore rifle event, Emmons, who had won the prone event two days earlier, accidentally aimed and fired at the wrong target, earning zero points and dropping to eighth place. His blunder did come with a silver lining. After the competition, Czech shooter Katerina Kurkova came over to offer her condolences. The pair started dating and married in 2007.
Taken from The Book of Olympic Lists by David Wallechinsky and Jaime Loucky, published by Aurum.