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Fun Fact: The Olympic Games

July 27, 2012

The 2012 Olympics start today! I’m so excited! I love the summer Olympics, and I can’t wait to introduce my girls to cheering on all the events, but especially my favorite—women’s gymnastics.

The first ancient Olympic Games began in 776 BC. They were held to honor Zeus and the other gods in the ancient city of Olympia, where the temple of Zeus and Hera stood. They continued for 12 centuries until 393 A.D. when Emperor Theodosius I banned all pagan activity in an effort to spread Christianity.

Ancient Olympia, Greece

All free male Greek citizens were entitled to participate in the ancient Olympic Games, regardless of their social status. Although unmarried women could attend the games, married women could not; neither could participate.

The ancient Games included running, long jump, discus throw, javelin, wrestling, boxing, pankration (a primitive form of martial arts), and equestrian events (including horse and chariot races).

The official award ceremony took place at the temple of Zeus. The winner’s name, father’s name, and homeland were announced and an olive tree wreath—which was sacred in ancient time—was placed on his head.

The Olympics were revived in 1896 in Athens, Greece, the birthplace of the Ancient Games. Fourteen countries participated in the Games, although women were still not permitted to participate. The first modern Olympics had the largest international participation of a sporting event to that date.

This year in London, over 10,000 athletes will compete from over 204 countries and territories around the world.

Here’s some Olympic trivia for you:

      • The athletes competed nude in the ancient Olympic Games.
      • The first time women were allowed to compete in modern Olympics was in Paris in 1900.
      • London will be the first city to host the Olympics three times: 1908, 1948, 2012.
      • Sports that have been discontinued from the games are: pigeon shooting, croquet, cricket, Jeu de Paume (like squash but with your hands), pelota (played with a hand, bat, and basket), polo, roque (a form of croquet), rackets (an early form of racketball), tug-of-war, lacrosse and motor boating.
      • The youngest Olympian was Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras, who was 10 years old when he competed in the 1896 Athens Olympics.
      • The oldest Olympian was Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who was 72 years old at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics.
      • Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina is the record holder for the most medals in individual events (14) and the most medals overall: 18.
        • The five Olympic rings represent the five major regions of the world: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceana.
      • The Olympic Flag was first flown in 1920.
    • The Vatican City is one sovereign state that has never competed in the Olympics.


Which sport are you most excited to watch in
this year’s Olympic Games?

“The Olympics remain the most compelling search for excellence
that exists in sport, and maybe in life itself.”

~ Dawn Fraser (Australian swimmer, 3-time winner at the Olympics)

Photo by John.Karakatsanis (cc)

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©2011- 2012 Christi McGuire. All Rights Reserved.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2012 10:44 am

    Last night we made our 9yo sit down and watch the “Top 5 Olympic Moments”, the tail end of a Bob Costas recap. He sat there baffled while we bawled over Mohammed Ali, Derek Redmond and Kerri Strug, but he did get the point. It’s not about whether you win or lose, it’s about doing your best!

    • July 27, 2012 1:57 pm

      I could watch all those specials on the Olympics! I cry every time I see Kerri Strug make her vault. It really was incredible what she did! I still want to be Mary Lou Retton!

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