Lifestyle and Relationships

The Game of Rings

The London Games 2012 are finally over, with a breathtaking closing ceremony, gold medals aplenty, and some amazing athletic triumphs. The events wowed us all and so too have the tales of love and relationships created in the Olympic Village.

According to The Daily Mail, ‘A record 150,000 condoms were made available to athletes should they find they still have energy left after competing. That’s 15 each for the duration of the 17-day Games!’  So much for the famous sporting abstinence…

The Games always inspired romance among the athletes, culminating with romantic tales of engagements. After all, for the athletes, what more perfect an occasion to propose than at the Games?

Here are some of the most romantic and best known athletes’ love stories from the recent and not-so-recent past:

2012 – Victoria Pendleton and Scott Gardner

Victoria Pendleton & Scott Gardner

Image courtesy of InfoBarrell

British gold medal winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton controversially got engaged to her coach Scott Gardner, a relationship the pair had kept secret in 2008. Although the atmosphere has been reportedly tense with team mates, the couple are planning to wed soon after London 2012.

2008 – Darcy Marqardt and Richard Hortness

Darcy Marqardt & Richard Hortness

Image courtesy of The Toronto Star

These two Canadians met at the end of the Beijing Olympics of 2008. Darcy returned to her work in Vancouver while Richard finished his final year of studies in Las Vegas, but they kept in touch before Hortness eventually moved to Ontario, where she was based in training for swimming at London 2012 and romance blossomed. Hortness apparently proposed about 100 times before she accepted!

2004 – Katerina Kurkova and Matthew Emmons

Katerina Kurkova & Matthew Emmons

Image courtesy of ImageZone

The 2004 Games in Athens threw Czechoslovakian Katy and American Matt together and saw them both win gold in sport shooting. They married in 2007 and Katy has since won two more medals. Apparently they got together after Emmons, having initially taken the lead, cross-fired on his last shot and finished eighth. When Katy consoled him after, his comment was that “things happen for a reason… it seems the reason was Katy”.

1964 – Nikolai Prodanov and Diana Yorgova

Nikolai Prodanov and Diana Yorgova

Image courtesy of

Bulgarian gymnast Nikolai Prodanov and long-jumper Diana Yorgova were the first couple to marry in an Olympic Village, during the 1964 Tokyo Games. Yorgova went on to win silver at the 1972 Games in Munich.

1948 – Emil Zatopek and Dana Ingrova

Emil Zatopek & Dana Ingrova

Image courtesy of

The Czech long-distance runner and javelin thrower met during the London Games back in 1948. By the end of the Games, Emil had two medals, and the pair were engaged. Interestingly, they shared more than their love for sport, as they have the same birthday and are the first and last married couple to have become champions on the same day.

1948 – Ottavio Missoni and Rosita Jelmini

Ottavio Missoni and Rosita Jelmini

Image courtesy of Tumblr

Italian hurdler, Missoni, is the same Missoni of the fashion house label, which he set up in 1947 as a workshop making tracksuits. During the London 1948 Games, the teenage Rosita Jelmini was in London improving her English, when she and her friends were invited to lunch with the Italian team after watching their race. When the pair met, sparks flew and they married in 1953, together setting up what was to become one of Europe’s most successful fashion houses. Until last year Ottavio, aged 90, competed successfully in veteran athletics competitions!

The Games inspire us all, not just in athletics, but in love as well! Who will be the next golden loved-up couple of the Olympic games in Rio? We can’t wait to find out!

Get more inspiration in our Engagement section!

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