Amazing Olympic Facts
The early Olympic Games were celebrated as a religious festival from 776 B.C. until 393 A.D., when the games were banned for being a pagan festival (the Olympics celebrated the Greek god Zeus). In 1894, a French educator Baron Pierre de Coubertin, proposed a revival of the ancient tradition, and thus the modern-day Olympic Summer Games were born.
- The five Olympic rings represent the five major regions of the world – Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania, and every national flag in the world includes one of the five colors, which are (from left to right) blue, yellow, black, green, and red.
- The first Olympic Games on record was held in 776 BC, but it’s thought the competition was running long before then. The first champion on record was Coroebus, a cook from Elis, who won an olive branch in the running race.
- The first female Olympic champion was GB’s Charlotte Cooper, who won the tennis singles in 1900. She wasn’t, though, the first female Olympic gold medallist, as Swiss sailor Hélène de Pourtalès was part of a boat crew which had earlier that same Olympics won gold.
- The Oldest Olympian Ever : Oscar Swahn, a Swedish shooting expert, won his first Olympic medal in 1908, when he was a spry 60-year-olds. Apparently he got a taste for winning, even if it came later in life than most people. (He would go on to compete in two more Olympic Games.) After WWI, Swahn attended the Antwerp Games (his last) and won a silver medal. He was 72 at the time. It seemed his marksmanship hadn’t faltered in the slightest, despite his advancing age.
- The First Olympics Ever Broadcast on Television : was the Berlin Olympics in 1936, with events shown on large screens around Berlin. The first Olympic Games to appear on domestic televisions was the 1948 London Games which was transmitted within the British Isles. The first Olympic Games to be covered by television worldwide was the Rome Olympics in 1960.
- Gold Medals Aren’t Pure Gold Names can be deceptive. Even though the top athlete in his or her field wins the ‘gold,’ the medals aren’t really made out of solid gold. In fact, they haven’t been pure gold for around 100 years.The gold medals awarded now are actually silver, with gold plating. That probably doesn’t matter to the athletes who have dedicated their lives to winning one, as long as they aren’t planning on melting the medal down and pawning it off.
- The first athlete to win gold medals in five consecutive Olympics was British rower Steve Redgrave, who won his first in Los Angeles in 1984 and his fifth in Sydney in 2000
- The first death of an athlete at the Olympic Games was also in 1912. Portuguese runner Francisco Lázaro collapsed after 18 miles of the marathon and died the next day. It was originally thought he died of dehydration, but later discovered the wax he put on his skin to prevent sunburn prevented sweating and caused a serious water-electrolyte imbalance.
The World’s Youngest Olympian Dimitrios Loundras was a Greek gymnast who took part in the Athens Olympics held in 1896. Young Dimitrios won a bronze medal for his efforts, and to this day he still remains the youngest Olympic competitor and medalist on record. Even more amazing, he was 10 years and 218 days old when he won his medal. That’s a lot of pressure for a kid, but Dimitrios did just fine. Later in life he became an admiral in the Greek Navy. Perhaps he held onto his medal when he was out to sea, for good luck.