Did a Gymnast Win Six Medals at an Olympics…With One Leg?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about the Olympics and Olympians and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the Olympic urban legends featured so far.

OLYMPIC URBAN LEGEND: A gymnast won six medals at an Olympics…with only one leg!

In 1904, gymnast George Eyser was 33 years old, competing in his first and last Olympics for the United States (Eyser came to America from Germany as a young teen – he became a citizen in 1894).

He went home with a staggering SIX medals, including THREE Gold Medals!

He won the Gold Medal in Parallel Bars, Long Horse Vault and Rope Climbing. He won the Silver Medal in the Pommel Horse and the Combined Competition. He won the Bronze Medal in the Horizontal Bar.

That’s an impressive enough feat for ANY Olympian, but, naturally, Eyser was a bit more special than that (obviously, as why else would I be featuring him here?).

You see, Eyser had lost his left leg in a train accident years earlier!!!

Yep, he won all these medals competing with a wooden leg!

Here is the leg in question…

Amazing, huh?

Eyser was the last athlete to compete with a prosthetic in the Olympics until just over a hundred years later, in the 2008 Summer Olympics, South African swimmer Natalie du Toit competed with a prosthetic (after her left leg was amputated after a car accident back in 2001).

In the 2012 Summer Olmpics, Natalia Partyka participated in Table Tennis with one arm.

Both remarkable examples of the competitive drive taking you further than you ever thought you could go.

The legend is…


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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