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Ancient Olympic athletes competed in the nude

The word “gymnasium” comes from the Greek word gymnos, which means naked. In ancient times athletes practiced in the nude to the accompaniment of music. They also performed naked at the Olympic Games. Women were not allowed to participate or even to attend as spectators.

The first Olympic games were held in 776BC – and then every 4 years until 339BC. The first Olympic race was won by Corubus, a chef. For many years the Olympics consisted of only one race, a sprint of 192 metres (210 yards, the length of the stadium) called the “stadion.” A second race of 400 metres was added 50 years later. The pentathlon, wrestling, boxing, single-horse and four-horse chariot races were included later still. There also was a special event in which runners competed in hoplite armor, helmet, shield, and greaves that weighed 20-25 kg (50-60 lbs). There were no team events, relay races or the long distance race of Marathon – these events were introduced in the modern Olympics.

Go for silver
No medals were awarded in the ancient Olympics. A winner received an olive wreath to wear on his head. Second and third placings received nothing. When the Olympics were revived in 1896 in Athens, Greece, winners received silver medals instead of gold medals. Eight years later, at the 1904 Games in St. Louis, gold replaced silver for first place. Today’s gold medals actually are sterling silver covered with a thin coat of gold.

Olympic medals since 1928 have featured the same design on the front: a Greek goddess, the Olympic Rings, the coliseum of ancient Athens, a Greek vase known as an amphora, a horse-drawn chariot, and the year, number of the Olympiad, and host city.

Games for all
At the first modern Olympic Games there were 311 male but no female competitors. Women were allowed to take part in the next Olympics in Paris. In the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games there were 3543 female competitors.

The oldest Olympic athlete at the Sydney Games was a 62-year-old archer representing Vanuatu. But he has some years to go to be the oldest ever Olympian. That title is held by Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn who won his sixth Olympic medal at the 1920 Antwerp Games at the age of 72 years and 280 days old. The youngest ever Olympian is Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras, who competed in the 1896 Athens Olympics. He was 10 years old.

The first ever perfect score of 10 in Olympic gymnastics was achieved at the 1976 Montreal Olympics by Romanian Nadia Comaneci. She won 3 gold medals.

The record for the most Olympic medals ever won is held by Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina. Competing in three Olympics, between 1956 and 1964, she won 18 medals: 9 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze. Thus she also tops the list of gold medals winners, beating Olympic stars such as US swimmer Mark Spitz and Finnish long distance runner Paavo Nurmi.

The Olympic Games is the largest single broadcast event in the world, broadcasted in 220 countries to more than 3.5 bilion people.

The Olympic Games

Olympics

Summer Olympics

The modern Olympics is the brainchild of Baron Pierre de Coubertin of France. He organised the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, Greece in 1896. A total of 245 athletes from 14 nations competed.

The modern Olympic Games:

1896 Athens, Greece

1900 Paris, France

1904 St. Louis, USA

1908 London, UK

1912 Stockholm, Sweden

1920 Antwerp, Belgium

1924 Paris, France

1928 Amsterdam, Netherlands

1932 Los Angeles, USA

1936 Berlin, Germany

1948 London, UK

1952 Helsinki, Finland

1956 Melbourne, Australia

1960 Rome, Italy

1964 Tokyo, Japan

1968 Mexico City, Mexico

1972 Munich, West Germany

1976 Montreal, Canada

1980 Moscow, USSR

1984 Los Angeles, USA

1988 Seoul, South Korea

1992 Barcelona, Spain

1996 Atlanta, USA

2000 Sydney, Australia

2004 Athens, Greece

2008 Beijing, China

2012 London, UK

2016 Rio de Janeiro

Olympics not held due to war: 1916, 1940 and 1944

Official Olympics site

Winter Olympics

The first Winter Olympics Games was held in 1924 in Chamonix, France. The venues since:

1928 St Moritz, Switzerland

1932 Lake Placid, USA

1936 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany

1948 St Moritz, Switzerland

1952 Oslo, Norway

1956 Cortina, Italy

1960 Squaw Valley, USA

1964 Innsbruck, Austria

1968 Grenoble, France

1972 Sapporo, Japan

1976 Innsbruck, Austria

1980 Lake Placid, USA

1984 Sarajevo, Yugoslavia

1988 Calgary, Canada

1992 Albertville, France

1994 Lillehammer, Norway

1998 Nagano, Japan

2002 Salt Lake City, USA

2006 Turin, Italy

2010 Vancouver, Canada

2014 Sochi, Russia

Winter Olympics not held during WWII 1940 and 1944

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