Today in Olympic History: April 6, 1896
The games themselves date back to ancient times when arena competitions reigned in Olympia, Greece from the 8th Century BC to the 4th Century AD. Much different were the games of the past as compared to those of the modern day.
Robert Garrett, who won the discus event, had never used a real discus until he started participating in the competition. He'd had a blacksmith make him a practice version based on ancient Greek records; it turned out to be a foot wide and 30 pounds in weight, making it impossible to throw and more than 25 pounds heavier than the real thing. [Source: Vox]From Then: The First Modern Games...
- a participation trophy where all 250 participants went home with a bronze medal AND first place winners received silver medals (gold medals came 8 yrs later)
- revival of a 1500 year-old ancient Greek tradition
- only men: no women, no national teams
- no trials, very little time to prepare
- 43 events of nine sports: swimming, gymnastics, track, cycling, wrestling, weightlifting, fencing, shooting and tennis
- host country of political turmoil
- much, much more expensive than anticipated
- arena/spectator viewing only
- a first, second, and third-place medal in each event: gold, silver, and bronze, respectively.
- summer and winter sports competitions
- both men and women compete, as well as national teams
- extensive training, trials, sometimes years of preparation
- 35 sports, 30 disciplines and 408 events
- the host city selected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC)
- excessively expensive and overwhelmingly commercialized
- viewed via international television and Internet
The 1896 Olympics also featured the first modern marathon. Quite an interesting story. Click HERE, scroll near bottom.
The winner, Spyridon "Spyros" Louis, became a national hero and will soon be featured on a Greek €2 coin — an even bigger deal than the honor for most modern Olympic champions, a Wheaties box.