A Little Olympics History
With the Rio 2016 Olympics due to start in just a few hours I thought it might be of interest to you if I gave you a little history of the games.
Did you know the term Olympian was coined by William Shakespeare in 1602 in his play Troilus and Cressida.
The ancient Greeks invented the Olympics in honour of the god Zeus, that took place every four years between the 776 BC and 393 AD, that’s almost 12 centuries. They took place on the plains of Olympia. They became the biggest sporting event in the ancient calendar. Emperor Theodosius I banned the games, as he thought they where part of a pagan festival.
These games featured mainly athletic but also sports such as wrestling, horse and chariot racing events.
The first Olympic champion was a cook named Coroebus. He won the 192 meter race in 776 BC.
The most famous Olympic controversy involved Roman Emperor Nero in the Games of A.D. 67. Not only did Nero bribe Olympic officials to postpone the Games by two years, he bribed his way to several Olympic laurels. Most notably, Nero competed in the 4 horse chariot races with a 10-horse team, only to be thrown from his chariot. While he did not finish the race, he was still proclaimed the winner on the grounds that he would have won had he been able to complete the race. After his death the next year, his name was expunged from the victor list
The first recorded publicly disgraced cheat was Eupholus of Thessaly who, in 388 B.C., bribed three boxers to lose intentionally. He was fined and the money was used to erect a statue of Zeus outside the stadium to both appease the gods and to warn others who might also be tempted to cheat. Soon, there was a line of these statues, called “zanes.” Each statue bore a detailed description of the offense and the name of the real winner.
All of the competitors competed naked and married women where not allowed to attend any of the events.
The word “gymnastics” actually comes from a Greek word meaning “naked”.
The Olympic winners of this time did not win medals but where given laurels and became local hero when they returned to their homes.
During the Ancient Olympics a flame was kept burning during the duration of the games in honour of the Hestia who was the goddess of the hearth.
The Modern Olympics
In 1890, after attending the Olympian Games of the Wenlock Olympian Society, Baron Pierre De Coubertin was inspired to found the International Olympic Committee. The Modern Olympics where took place in Athens in 1896.
Baron Pierre De Coubertin also designed the Olympic rings, though they didn’t become the official symbol of the Olympics until 1914. They represent the five continents and at least one of the colours appears in flags of every country in the World.
The first Modern Olympics took place in Athens, Greece in 1896. The Games brought together 14 nations and 241 athletes who competed in 43 events. The second Games took place in Paris in 1900.
Women only competed in the Olympic Games from the year 1900. 997 athletes took part with only 22 of them being women. They took part in sailing, golf, equestrian, croquet and tennis. The golf and tennis had women only events whilst the other sports the women competed with the men. In the 1956 Olympics 125 events where held for male athletes with only 26 for women.
The Modern Olympics have only been cancelled a three times. The cancellation was due to wars, in 1916 for World War I and in 1940 and 1944 for World War II.
Only one person watch the 1900 croquet event. This was the only year the crochet was an Olympic event.
Between 1912 and 1948 there was five categories for art competitions. Architecture, literature, music, painting and sculpture.
In 1908 when London held the Games they lasted 188 days. Even though this was the Summer Olympics events started in April and ended on October 31st. These games also saw the first Opening Ceremony. The USA team caused an outcry when they didn’t dip their flag as they paraded past the Royal box.
Photo finishing technology appeared first in the 1912 in the Stockholm Games.
Though the flame has been an Olympic symbol since 1928, the torch relay was only introduced at the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin.
Months before each Games, the Olympic Flame is lit in Olympia in a ceremony that reflects ancient Greek rituals. A female performer, acting as a priestess, ignites a torch by placing it inside a parabolic mirror which focuses the sun’s rays; she then lights the torch of the first relay bearer, thus initiating the Olympic torch relay that will carry the flame to the host city’s Olympic stadium, where it plays an important role in the opening ceremony and is put out at the closing ceremony.
1936 Olympics in Berlin was the first televised games. There was 21 camera set up to broadcast the games.
The Paralympics where founded in 1948 by Dr Ludwig Guttmann, an English doctor. He ran his events alongside the London Olympics for athletes in wheelchairs.
In 1968 the winners of the 200m race raised the fists whilst on the podium in a Black Power salute. This was a stand for civil rights in America.
The Winter Olympics started in 1924 with just 16 nations competing.
The 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles where the first to be sponsored by corporate companies. The companies bid for the right to for their logo to be shown during the games. The US government didn’t pay anything towards the games. The some of the companies involved where ABC, who won the right to broadcast the games, McDonalds and Burger King got into a bidding war, with McDonalds coming out top with the right to name one of the venues the McDonalds Olympic Swim Stadium. Other companies include Nike, Eastman Kodak Co, Coca-Cola Co, Nissan and Levi.
The Summer and Winter Games where held in the same year until 1992. In 1994 the Winter Olympics was held in Lillehammer.
Nations at the Summer Olympics
As of the 2012 Games in London, all of the current 204 National Olympic Committees have participated in at least one edition of the Olympic Summer Olympics, and athletes from Australia, France, Great Britain, Greece, and Switzerland have competed in all twenty-seven Summer Olympic Games.
Nations at the Winter Olympics
119 National Olympic Committees,110 of the current 204 National Olympic Committees and 9 obsolete National Olympic Committees, have participated in at least one Winter Games, and twelve nations Austria, Canada, Finland, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States have participated in all twenty-two Winter Games to date. Including participants from Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have also been represented in every games.
Hope you like these fun facts and have found them interesting. We will be cheering on Team GB for the next fortnight. The Opening Ceremony is live on BBC from midnight tonight.
Lets us all hope we have a clean, friendly and safe Olympics.