"I thought, 'That's ridiculous. I'm at the Olympic Games, I'm here for the United States of America. I don't care how bad it hurts, I'm going after it."
--Jason Lezak, describing what he was thinking in the last few meters of the 4x100 freestyle relay.
- The original Olympic games were held in Athens in 776 BC.
- A French guy named Pierre Frédy (the Baron of Coubertin and who is often referred to as Pierre de Coubertin) brought about the revival of the Olympics.
Pierre de Coubertin, the man who made it all happen for us again.
(Photo from Wikimedia)
- de Coubertin was very passionate about education and he thought that sports and competition was a pathway to a moral education.
- He decided when he was 31 (this was 1894) that he would make the Olympic games happen again.
- Two years later, in 1896, it was a reality. The first modern Olympic games were held in Athens.
First Olympic Games (all summer events) in Athens, 1896
(Photo from the IOC)
- 14 nations participated, but the majority of the athletes were Greek.
- Those Olympics in 1896 were all summer events. The first winter Olympics were not held until almost 20 years later, in 1924, in Chamonix, France.
First winter Olympic Games, 1924
(Photo from the IOC)
- It wasn't until the Games in 1912 that participants came from all five continents. A year later, in 1913, de Courbertin designed the Olympic flag with its characteristic five interlocking rings of different colors.
(Image from Create More Customers)
- The colors are meant to represent the five continents that participate in the games: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, and Europe.
- Because the rings interconnect, and because the flag is supposed to signify the cooperation of all nations, the colors do not correspond to individual continents.
- At the close of an Olympic games, the mayor of the host city presents the flag to the mayor of the next Olympic Games' host city. The flag is kept in that city until the opening of the games when the flag is raised again.
Olympic flame in Greece, from which the torch is lit
(Photo from monstersandcritics)
- The Olympic flame is meant to symbolize the death and rebirth of the ancient Olympians, as well as the purity and striving for perfection.
- Carrying the torch from Athens to the new host city (the torch relay) did not exist until the 1936 games that took place in Berlin.
- Before the start of each Olympics, a new flame is lit in the ancient Olympic stadium in Olympia, Greece. At the end of each games, the flame is extinguished again.
- A new torch used to carry the flame to the new host city is designed each year.
Athens, 2004. Very different from the Athens of 1896.
(Photo from CL Productions, who planned the opening & closing ceremonies)
Now I'm going to go check in on the action. If you're still curious, here are some more entries related to the Olympics:
The Olympic Theme Song
1904 Olympic Marathon
Ping Pong (Table Tennis)
International Olympic Committee, Olympic Museum, Permanent Collections
Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, The Olympic Flag
Enchanted Learning, The Olympic Games
Jennifer Rosenberg, Interesting Olympic Facts, About.com