In less than a month, the summer Olympics begin down in Rio de Janiero, Brazil or the Olympiad XXXI as it is also known. It begins on August 5th and runs through the 21st. Do you remember when both the summer and winter Olympics were held in the same year? Do you remember from your history classes when Jesse Owens blasted the Germans at the one held in Germany? Do you remember the movie "Chariots of Fire" about the man who refused to run on a Sunday due to his faith?
The modern Olympics has a long history beginning in 1894 when the first Olympic committee was formed to plan for the very first Olympic meet to be held in Greece in 1896. Except for a couple of Wars, games have happened every 4 years. Of course there are some interesting things that occurred over the 120 years its happened.
The very first Olympic meet had 280 competitors from 13 different nations who competed in 43 different events and they were all men. A few competitors were visitors who stumbled across the event. By 1924 there were over 3000 competitors from 44 nations and over 100 athletes were female.
What about other interesting facts?
1. London holds the record of any city for hosting 3 Olympic meets.
2. The youngest competitor was a Greek gymnast who competed in the first Olympics at the age of 10 years and 218 days. He won a bronze for his event.
3. The oldest competitor was a Swedish shooter who won his first medal in 1908 at the age of 60 and won his last, a silver, at the age of 72 in Antwerp.
4. The 1936 Berlin games were the first to be televised but it was only broadcast in Germany. The pictures were just black and white with lots of snow but it was better than the radio or newspapers.
5. Gold medals are not made of gold but are a gold plated silver. Gold medals have not been made of pure gold since 1912.
6. The Olympic games have only ever been cancelled three times due to War. The 1916 Olympics scheduled to be held in Berlin was instead cancelled due to World War I. The other two, the 1940 in Helsinki and the 1944 in London were cancelled due to World War II.
7. The opening ceremony started in 1908 at the games in London.
8. The first Winter Olympics actually didn't start until 1924 when it began as an "International Winter Sports Week" hosted by France.
9. The first global broadcasting of the Olympics occurred in 1960 when CBS broadcast the summer games from Rome but in 1994 the Olympics changed from two in one year to the summer and winter games being on a staggered schedule to help corporations pay for them. Advertising dollars are one way the Olympic committee makes money.
10. The Olympic Torch relay began with the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It began as a Nazi Propaganda tool to show the world their superiority.
11. The reason the particular colors were chosen for the Olympic Rings is that at least one of these colors appear in every flag in the world. In addition, each ring represents a region of the world.
12. Drug testing did not come into use until the 1968 when an athlete was suspended for the use of alcohol.
13. Africa, Antarctic, and South America have never hosted an Olympic games until this year. Rio de Janeiro is the first country in South America to hold one. Furthermore, no country in the southern hemisphere has hosted a winter games.
14. Figure skating and ice hockey were part of the summer Olympics until 1924.
15. The first few games lasted up to 188 days beginning in the spring and going to through to the fall rather than running for two weeks of today.
16. The basket ball court at the 1936 summer Olympics were outside and made of clay and sand. During the gold medal round between the United States and Canada, it rained turning the court into a muddy mess. It was impossible to dribble the ball so they spent time just passing the ball. The United States won 19 to 8.
17. Art was considered a part of the Olympics from 1912 to 1948 where you could win a medal in painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and literature but the pieces were required to be inspired by sports. It was decided after the 1948 Olympics that artists were professional and that violated the spirit of the Olympics so it was discontinued.
18. In 1904, one of the athletes with a wooden leg won three gold, two silver and a bronze medal.
19. The first American woman to win an Olympic event didn't know she was competing in the Olympics. She was studying art in Paris, saw an advertisement, and entered. She won a porcelain bowl but didn't realize the tournament was part of the Olympic games held in 1900.
20. Although Melbourne hosted the 1956 summer Olympics, the equestrian events had to be held in Sweden due to Australia's quarantine rules.
21. The tradition of awarding gold, silver, and bronze medals did not start until 1904. France gave out artwork as prizes in the 1900 Olympics while the 1896 games awarded a silver metal and olive branch to first place winners and a bronze medal to second place.