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Thursday, 10 November 2016

Olympic Games


The first Wenlock Olympian Games, a precursor to the modern Olympics, was centred on the little market town of Much Wenlock in Shropshire, England, in 1850.

The Games were founded by Dr William Penny Brookes, who took inspiration from the Ancient Greeks’ sporting contest.

The first meeting was held at Much Wenlock racecourse on October 22-23, 1850. Early Games included cycling on penny farthings, a blindfolded wheelbarrow race and an old women’s race.

The first National Olympian Games were held in London in 1866 and were organised by the National Olympian Association which had been co-founded by Brookes in 1865.


The successful campaign to revive the Olympics was started in France by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1890, after attending the Olympian Games of the Wenlock Olympian Society.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin

At first, there was opposition to his proposal. Undaunted, Coubertin pursued his aim and in 1894 he sent out invitations to all sporting organisations in the world to an international athletic congress to be held at Paris' Sorbonne University between June 16-23,1894. In the agenda drawn up for the meeting, the main object in Coubertin's mind - the Olympics' revival - was shrewdly listed only eighth.

When, after much wearying discussion of the preceding seven topics, the meeting eventually reached the eighth item on the last day, the tired delegates were so anxious to conclude that no one tried to argue, and the motion was carried easily.

It was also agreed to offer Greece the honor of being host nation for the first of the resurrected Games.

On April 6, 1896, in the presence of a crowd of 50,000, the King of Greece declared the first of the new series of Olympic Games open at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.

Opening ceremony in the Panathinaiko Stadium

The Games consisted of 43 events. They brought together 14 nations and 241 athletes mostly from Greece, Germany and France.

Winners received a silver medal and a crown of olive branches, with bronze for the runners-up.

On April 6, 1896 an American college student named James Connolly won the triple jump, becoming the first Olympic champion in over 1,500 years.

The first swimming event of the Olympics involves three Greek sailors jumping off a rowing boat and racing over 100 metres.

Greece won the most medals (46), and the United States won the most gold medals (11).

The ten-man United States track and field team reached Athens barely in time to participate, but won nine out of the 12 events they competed in.


The Olympic Games held at the Paris Exposition in 1900 did not have a stadium, but were notable for being the first time women took part in the Games.

The first sportswomen to compete in the Paris Games were Mme. Brohy and Mlle. Ohnier of France in croquet.

The first female champion was Charlotte Cooper of Great Britain in tennis.

Charlotte Cooper, first woman Olympic champion, in the 1900 Games

Competitions at the 1900 Games began on May 14 and ended five months later on October 28.

The 1904 Olympic Games were held during the Louisiana Purchase Exposition at St. Louis. Roughly 650 athletes participated, but 580 were from the United States.

For the first time gold, silver and bronze medals for the first three were awarded at the 1904 Olympics.

Archery was the only sport for women at the 1904 Olympics.

Women's swimming was introduced in 1912.

The 1908 Olympics were held in London. The Bishop of Pennsylvania epitomized the true spirit of the Games (and, indeed, of all sports) in an often quoted observation during a sermon at the Games that "the important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning, but taking part, for the essential thing in life is not so much conquering as fighting well."

The first usage of electronic timing and public address systems was at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden.

The first Olympic fatality occurred at the 1912 Stockholm games when Francisco Lázaro tried to run a marathon covered in animal fat (it was to prevent sunburn). Before the race, he had supposedly said: "Either I win or I die."

The 1916 Summer Olympics were due to take place in Berlin, Germany, but were cancelled, due to World War I. Following the war, the Olympics were awarded to Antwerp to "honor the suffering of the Belgian people".

The Olympic flag was adopted in 1914 and flown for the first time only at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium. It has since been hoisted during each celebration of the Games.

The Olympic flag

The first Winter Olympic Games begin at Chamonix, in the French Alps, in 1924, in connection with the Paris Games held three months later.

The Olympic motto, Citius, Altius, Fortius, a Latin expression meaning "Faster, Higher, Stronger" was proposed by Pierre de Coubertin in 1894 and has been official since 1924. The motto was coined by Coubertin's friend, the Dominican priest Henri Didon OP, for a Paris youth gathering of 1891.

Women's Olympic athletics and gymnastics were held for the first time at the 1928 Summer Olympics at Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

In 1936 The Nazis introduced the Olympic torch relay to promote the Olympics in Berlin. German sculptor Walter Lemcke designed the first Olympic torch, which began the tradition of taking the Olympic Flame to the host city.  It went from Olympia to Berlin, and involved 3,331 carriers, each one running about 1km.

The Germans also introduced the Olympic rings by deceitfully carving them into the ancient stones at Olympia for a propaganda film about the Olympics. They were mistakingly thought to be an ancient Greek symbol, after researchers in the 1950s found a stone with the symbol carved on it in Delphi. The stone turned out to be a leftover from the film.

Olympic Rings

The 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin were the first Games to be broadcast on television, though only to local audiences. The 1956 Winter Olympics were the first internationally televised Olympic Games.

The equivalent of the Olympic Games for disabled people was inaugurated at the 1960 Olympic Games, in Rome. 400 athletes competed in the "Parallel Olympics", which became known as the first Paralympics.

Zambia is the only country to have entered an Olympics as one country (Northern Rhodesia) and left the games as another. Zambia declared independence on the last day of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

In 1980, US President Jimmy Carter announced a United States boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan.

The Olympic mascot was introduced in 1968. It has played an important part of the Games' identity promotion since the 1980 Summer Olympics, when the Russian bear cub Misha reached international stardom.

The first time in Olympic history that every country competing included female athletes was at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Great Britain.


Australia, France, Great Britain, Greece and Switzerland are the only countries to be represented at every Olympic Games since their inception in 1896.

Great Britain is the only country to have won at least one gold medal at every Summer Olympics.

The only sport on the Olympic program that features men and women competing together is the equestrian disciplines. There is no "Women's Eventing", or 'Men's Dressage'.

The United States has hosted eight Olympic Games, four Summer and four Winter, more than any other nation.

London holds the distinction of hosting three Olympic Games, all Summer, more than any other city.

Sources Compton's Encyclopedia, Europress Encyclopedia

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