I was today years old when I learned that tandem cycling used to be an Olympic sport. This two-men 2000m race was a regularly occurring event starting in 1908 until it was discontinued after the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. This sport is actually still featured in the Paralympics, as pairs compete with one guide and one blind rider.

The 1952 Helsinki Olympics had tandem cycling like many games before it. However, this year became a standout in the history of this event, as the winners had never competed in tandem cycling prior to the Olympics. Not only that, they literally had never even tried tandem cycling until they were on the ground at Helsinki.

The accomplished Australian cyclists Russel Mockridge and Lionel Cox had already qualified for solo cycling events at the 1952 Olympics (and would both go on to win medals) when they decided to give tandem cycling a try. Mockridge found a dismantled bike in the Olympic Village, and the two athletes decided to fix it and enter into the event. They ended up winning gold by the narrowest of margins.

You can relive the story with classic footage below:

Photos and Video Courtesy of the Australian 1952 Olympic Team and The Olympic Games