With rumours abounding that there is a curse on the London 2012 Olympic Games following a series of deaths of competing athletes, by a strange coincidence it has been revealed that 100% of athletes who competed in the 1908 London Olympics have also died.
French-language media have begun talking about a 1908 Olympic ‘curse’, but is there any justification for this?
It seems the first mention of ‘the terrible curse of the London Olympic Games 1908’ was made in November last year, when a French TV history channel reported the death of the American sprinter Mel Sheppard. Sheppard, who won three gold medals in 1908 died at his home New York City in January 1942 and his obituary cited ‘acute indigestion’ as the cause of death.
‘La malediction olympique’ cropped up again last month in another French TV documentary, which featured the tragic death of GB athlete Emil Voigt, winner of the 1908 five mile race. He is said to have died peacefully at home in New Zealand at the age of 90 in October 1973.
‘Based on crude mortality rates you would expect 100% of athletes to have died since competing at the 1908 games’, said Rob Mastrodomenico, a sports statistician at Global Sports Statistics. ‘However with two world wars in between, the figure could be even higher.’
Reports that athletes refused to buy lucky heather and clothes pegs from travelling gypsies outside the London Olympic Stadium are said to be unfounded.