Are you a sports enthusiast?
Regardless of your answer to the above question, and unless you are not living under a huge rock, you must be fairly acquainted with the term “Olympics.”
The extent and vastness of the Olympics are such that almost every nation in the world participates in this international multidisciplinary sports event that spans a wide variety of sports from all over the world. Therefore, it is pretty certain that almost everyone knows something about the Olympic Games. But the question is, “Do you know enough?”
The Olympics are one of the oldest international sporting events in the world, and hence also the most popular. However, due to the same reason, these games also possess several lesser-known facts that remain shrouded behind other popular facts.
This blog is going to test your familiarity with this popular quadrennial event. In the following sections, we will share ten facts about the Olympic Games you likely don’t know about. Check out these interesting facts to deepen your knowledge of the greatest multi-sport event in the world.
When did it all begin?
The modern-day Olympic Games, as we know them today, were first held in 1896 in Athens, Greece. Back then, only 14 countries participated in the games, and most participants were from Greece alone (over 200 out of 245, to be precise). However, the history of the Olympics dates back to much before the 19th century.
The ancient Olympic games were religiously centered sporting events, more of a festival dedicated to the Greek god Zeus. The games were organized in the ancient city of Olympia – hence the name “Olympic” Games. From 776 BC, these games were held every four years till 393 AD before being abandoned due to uncertain reasons.
Nudity: shameful or traditional?
What do you think will happen if a present-day Olympic athlete comes naked to perform at the Olympic Games? That will be breaking news and a negative one. Well, what if we told you that there was a time when nudity was a valued tradition at the Olympics?
Ironically, in ancient Greece, nudity was a tradition in the Olympic games. Male athletes would run the stadion race without wearing shorts or other clothes. Although it is not clear how this tradition crept into the ancient Olympics, it is fairly evident that by the second half of the 8th century BC, nudity was a heavily practiced tradition in the Olympics. Interesting.
The father of the modern Olympics
The ancient Olympic games were last held in 393 AD, most likely after the Roman emperor Theodosius I banned all pagan traditions in the territories under his rule. After dying down in the 4th century, how do you think the games revived after over 1500 years? Thank Pierre de Coubertin.
French historian and educator Pierre de Coubertin is considered largely responsible for the revival of the ancient Olympic Games and is called the father of the modern Olympics. He founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894. The first-ever modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece, in 1896 and ran for ten days.
The lone runner
The rebirth of the Olympics was a historically significant event in the history of the world, with enthusiasts across Europe and the rest of the world eager to partake in the events.
However, women were initially not allowed to be a part. Coubertin believed that women athletes could adversely influence the performance of male athletes and, therefore, should not be allowed to participate in the game.
However, a Greek woman named Stamata Revithi went against the rules of the committee and ran the 40-kilometer-long marathon alone a day after the official men’s marathon.
Fortunately, women were permitted to compete in the 1900 Paris Olympics in some selected sports.
The Olympic Flame
Unlike the modern Olympics, the ancient Olympic Games didn’t have the concept of an Olympic Torch or Flame. Even in the modern games, the Olympic Flame did not exist until the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. Even then, the familiar Olympic Torch Relay ceremony only happened in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Since it came into existence, the Olympic Flame has survived the strangest conditions, including the deadly top of Mount Everest, the cold of the North Pole, the depth of water, and even the vacuum of space. The flame is kept burning throughout the duration of the Olympics before being extinguished at the closing ceremony.
All that glitters is not gold
There are many myths we hear and read about in our lives. While some of these myths are too far-fetched to believe in the first place, others seem too believable to bust. One of the myths many of us have believed, or continue to believe, is that of the Olympic Gold Medal.
Yes, you know what we are getting at. The Olympic Gold medal is not made of gold- not purely, at least. Not that the medal needs to be of pure gold to be as significant as it is. To be precise, the Olympic Gold Medal comprises 92.5 percent silver by weight. There is a six-gram gold plating on the surface, though.
The all-encompassing Olympic Rings
Have you ever wondered why the Olympic Rings are the way they are? What’s the significance of the five rings and their five colors? Of course, these rings must have been designed after careful thinking, right?
While discussing facts about the Olympic Games, we can’t possibly miss out on the the five interlocked Olympic rings. These differently-colored rings stand for the five continents that send their participants to the games: Asia, Africa, the Americas, Europe, and Oceania.
Additionally, the five colors – red, yellow, green, black, and blue – represent a more thoughtful decision. At least one of the five colors is present in the national flags of every country of the world. Isn’t that ingenious?
Athletes who switched their nations
The Olympics have witnessed several unusual instances strange enough to raise eyebrows. For example, there have been two athletes in the history of the modern Olympics who have represented and won gold medals for different countries.
Rugby player Daniel Carrol won a gold medal by representing Australia in the 1908 Olympics and another gold while representing the US in 1920. Similarly, Kakhi Kakhiashvili won gold in the 1992 Olympics on behalf of the Unified Team and two more in 1996 and 2000 as a Greek citizen.
The ten-year-old Olympian
The youngest Olympian in the history of modern Olympics is Dimitrios Loundras – a Greek gymnast who participated in the inaugural 1896 Olympics in Athens. Can you believe it? A ten-year-old competing in an international event of such a grand scale!
Some other young Olympic athletes include Cecilia Colledge, who finished eighth in figure skating in the Lake Placid Winter Olympics; Marjorie Gestring, who is the youngest female gold medallist Olympian; and Kusuo Kitamura, the youngest individual male gold medallist.
Only one medal
The modern Olympic games are synonymous with the three prestigious medals denoting first, second, and third positions. However, it was not like that back in the old days. The ancient Olympics only celebrated the best athlete, so there was only one medal (gold) instead of the three medals we are familiar with today.
Bonus: The next Olympics Games are just around the corner. They’ll be held in July-August 2024 in Paris, France. For more updates about this upcoming event, keep returning to The Countdown List.
While the Olympic Games are one of the oldest and most widely known modern sporting events in the world, many facts remain hidden from most people for some reasons.
Through this blog, we have tried to uncover some interesting facts that we think should be known to more and more people, especially those interested in the history of these games.
So, how many facts were you already familiar with? Count your marks out of 10, and tell us your score in the comments below. If you found this blog interesting, share these amazing Olympic Games facts with your friends. If you have some suggestions or feedback, we are all ears.