The early Olympic Games were celebrated as a religious festival from 776 B.C. until 393 A.D., when the games were banned for being a pagan festival (the Olympics celebrated the Greek god Zeus). According to legend, it was Heracles who first called the Games "Olympic" and established the custom of holding them every four years. In 1894, a French educator Baron Pierre de Coubertin, proposed a revival of the ancient tradition, and thus the modern-day Olympic Summer Games were born.
The Olympic rings
The Olympic rings, originally designed in 1912 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin,The five interconnected Olympic rings represent the five significant regions of the world – Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceana, and every national flag in the world includes one of the five colors, which are (from left to right) blue, yellow, black, green, and red. The rings are interconnected to symbolize the friendship to be gained from these international competitions. The Olympic flag was first flown during the 1920 Olympic Games.
The Olympic Flame
The Olympic flame is a practice continued from the ancient Olympic Games, which celebrates the theft of fire from the Greek god Zeus by Prometheus. In Olympia (Greece), a fire was kept burning throughout the celebration of the ancient Olympics. The flame first re-appeared in the modern Olympics at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. The flame itself represents a number of things, including purity and the endeavor for perfection. The Olympic Torch relay was introduced by Cal Diem at the controversial 1936 Berlin Olympics. The Olympic flame is lit at the ancient site of Olympia, by eleven women, representing the Vestal Virgins, they perform a ceremony in which the torch is kindled by the light of the Sun. The Olympic Torch is then passed from runner to runner from the ancient site of Olympia to the Olympic stadium in the hosting city. The flame is then kept alight until the Games have concluded. The Olympic Torch relay represents a continuation from the ancient Olympic Games to the modern Olympics. After being lit, the flame continues to burn throughout the Games, and is put out on the day of the closing celebration.
Real Gold Medals
The last Olympic gold medals that were made entirely out of gold were awarded in Sweden during the 1912 games.
The First Marathon
The event was instituted to commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides and is one of the original modern Olympic events. In 490 BC, Pheidippides, a Greek soldier, ran from Marathon to Athens (about 25 miles) to inform the Athenians about the outcome of the Battle of Marathon (the namesake of the race). The distance was filled with hills and other obstacles; thus Pheidippides arrived in Athens exhausted and with bleeding feet. After telling the townspeople of the Greeks' success in the battle, Pheidippides fell to the ground dead. In 1896, at the first modern Olympic Games, held a race of approximately the same length in commemoration of Pheidippides.
The Exact Length of a Marathon
During the first several modern Olympics, the marathon was always an approximate distance of 26 miles. In 1908, the British royal family requested that the marathon start at the Windsor Castle so that the royal children could witness its start. The distance from the Windsor Castle to the Olympic Stadium was 42,195 meters (or 26 miles and 385 yards). In 1924, this distance of the "26 miles and 385 yards" became the standard for the marathon.
First TV Broadcast
The "Berlin Olympics" held in 1936 were the first Olympic games ever to be broadcast on television.
Because of World War I and World War II, there were no Olympic Games in 1916 (Berlin Germany), 1940 (Helsinki, Finland), or 1944 (London, England).
First Perfect 10
Romanian "Nadia Comaneci" was the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 seven times in a row. She achieved this feat in the 1976 Montreal Games. Since the scoreboards were not equipped to display scores of 10.0, Nadia's perfect marks were flashed as 1.00 instead
Oldest and Youngest Olympian
The youngest Olympian was Dimitrios Loundras of Greece, he was 10 years old and competed in the 1896 Olympics as a gymnast. The oldest Olympian was Oscar Swahn of Sweden, he was 72 years old and participated in 1920 games as a shooter. Hilda Lorna Johnstone of Great Britain is the oldest women, she was 70 years old when she participated in 1972 games. 12-year-old Inge Sorensen from Denmark won a bronze medal in the 200-meter breaststroke in 1936, making her the youngest medalist ever in an individual event.
There were "no women" participants in the first modern Olympics which were held in 1896, it was felt that their inclusion would be "impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic, and incorrect". Women were first allowed to participate in 1900 at the second modern Olympic Games in Paris, France. The 2012 Olympics is the first to have a woman from every country, but with the fact that Female Boxing has been included in the list of events, every sport now has male and female competitors.
A City, Not a Country
When choosing locations for the Olympic Games, the IOC specifically gives the honor of holding the Games to a city rather than a country. London will be the first city to host the Olympics for a 3rd time (1908, 1948 & 2012). Athens has also hosted 3 Olympic games, but one of them, the 1902 Athens Intercalated Olympic Games do not counted as an official Olympic event. Competitors where required to shoot at mannequins dressed in frock coats. There was a Bull's eye were on the dummy's throat. The event was held over 20 meters and 30 meters.
Winter Games Begun
The first ever Winter Olympic Games were held in Chamonix, France in 1924, beginning a tradition of holding them a few months earlier and in a different city than the summer Olympic Games. Beginning in 1994, the Winter Olympic Games were held two years apart from the summer Games.
The word "gymnasium" comes from the Greek root "gymnos" meaning nude; the literal meaning of "gymnasium" is "school for naked exercise." Athletes in the ancient Olympic Games would participate in the nude.
The 10 Greatest Ancient Olympians
1. Leonidas of Rhodes (stadion, diaulos, hoplitodromos): 12 victories in four festivals from 164 B.C. to 152 B.C.
2. Herodoros of Megara (competition for heralds): 10 victories in ten festivals from 328 B.C. to 292 B.C.
3. Hermogenes of Xanthos (stadion, diaulos, hoplitodromos): 8? victories in three festivals from 81 to 89 A.D. (the Olympic Register is somewhat unclear).
4. Astylos of Kroton (stadion, diaulos, hoplitodromos): 7 victories in three festivals from 488 B.C. to 480 B.C.
5. Hipposthenes of Sparta (boys’ wrestling, wrestling): 6 victories in six festivals from 632 B.C. to 608 B.C.
6. Milo of Kroton (boys’ wrestling, wrestling): 6 victories in six festivals from 536 B.C. to 516 B.C.
7. Chionis of Sparta (stadion, diaulos): 6 victories in three festivals from 664 B.C. to 656 B.C.
8. Nero of Rome (competition for heralds, tragedy, lyre, tethrippon, foals tethrippon, 10-horse chariot): 6 victories in one festival in 67 A.D. (these games were later declared illegitimate).
9. Gorgos of Elis (diaulos, hoplitodromos, pentathlon): 6 victories in four festivals (dates unknown).
10. Aelius Granianus of Sikyon (diaulos, hoplitodromos, pentathlon): 5 victories in four festivals from 133 to 145 A.D.