The ongoing 2016 Olympic Games in Rio are keeping the entire world excited at the moment. Olympics are an amazing display of athleticism and skills and stated as one of the most prestigious sports events in the world. The ‘modern day’ Olympics have been going over for above a century and take place every 4 years in different locations. Men and women indulge in a friendly battle of different sports and athletic activities to establish their prowess – competitions happen, medals are won, and even tragedies occur. But the spirit of Olympics is overwhelming where individuals and teams challenge each other for pride, victory, and fame and eventually emerge out as heroes in Olympic glory. Ever since the first new-era Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece in the year 1896, the world has witnessed quite a few amazing records being broken and made. Here are some weird and interesting facts about the Olympic Games.
- Rio Olympics
The 2016 Olympics in Rio, Brazil marks the first time in the history of Olympics that this event is hosted by a South-American country. This year’s Olympic Games also witnesses Rugby and Golf as official competing categories after a long absence of 92 years and 112 years respectively.
- Medals of honor
The winning medals are today awarded as gold, silver, and bronze to the top three performers in every category. This system wasn’t formulated till the 3rd gathering of the nations. The first Olympic Games held in Greece awarded silver and bronze medals to the winner and runners-up and nothing to the third place holder. The second Olympics held in France did not even hand out medals and instead rewarded the winners with paintings which they thought would be more valuable than medals.
- All That Glitters is Not Gold
The Gold medals awarded in the Olympics have not been made of pure gold ever since the 1912 Olympics in Sweden. The gold medals awarded ever since then are basically silver medals which are, as per Olympic Charter plated with 6 grams of gold.
- Age is Just a Number
The oldest athlete ever to compete in the Olympic Games was a shooter from Sweden named Oscar Swahn. The last time he performed was in 1920 Olympics held in Antwerp, Belgium at the age of 72. The youngest athlete, on the contrary, was a gymnast of Greek origin called Dimitrios Loundras who participated in the first Olympics held in Athens, Greece in 1896. He was said to be only 10 years old at the time. source
- Luck by Chance
While holidaying in Paris with her mother in 1900, Margaret Abbott- an American golfer, took part in what she assumed a regular golf tournament. She won the tournament and left for America without the faintest knowledge that she had just become the first American woman ever to win a gold medal in the Olympics.
- Duck Tales
Henry Robert Pearce, an Australian rower was in the middle of Rowing quarterfinals of 1928 Rome Olympics when he suddenly stopped. He had heard some noises and upon noticing, had stopped to let a family of ducks in front of him safely pass. Nevertheless, he finished first and won a gold medal.
- The Torch Relay
The Olympic Games Torch Relay is not an ancient tradition as per popular beliefs. It rather started in the controversial 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin as a propaganda to showcase Nazi Party superiority. The brainchild of Carl Diem who was the Chief Organiser of that Olympics, the relay passed through Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia,Greece and Yugoslavia who would all eventually be suppressed by the Nazi rule over the next decade.
- 100m Phenomenon
Till 2011, no white man had ever completed the 100m sprint under 10 seconds. Termed as the 10-second barrier, there have been hundreds of black athletes finishing below the 10-second mark ever since the record was first set in 1968. But never in the history of Olympic Games had a white athlete officially finished a 100m sprint in less than 10 seconds till Christopher Lemaitre broke the record in 2011.
- Barefoot Legend
Till 1960, after over 60 years since the modern-day Olympic Games started, no black athlete had ever won a marathon. Given the current records, it is quite surprising that the first time someone achieved this feat was in 1960 when Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian sprinter won the marathon and shocking as it may sound – he did it barefoot.
- Flight Fright
Muhammad Ali has always been one of the most successful and celebrated boxers the world has ever seen. In 1960, when Ali was flying to Rome to compete in the Olympics, he brought a parachute along with him which he wore the entire duration of the flight. He won the gold nevertheless.
- Longest Olympics
The longest recorded time duration of Olympic Games was in 1908 London Olympics which lasted a total of 187 days. Starting in April, this gathering of Nations continued until October that year.
- First Suspension
Swedish Pentathlon participant Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall became the first athlete to be suspended from the Olympics because of alcohol abuse. Anti-doping regulations were enforced in 1967 and it came as a shocker when the pentathlete got drunk before a pistol shooting competition. He claimed to have drank a couple of beers to relax and ease his nervousness and was disqualified from competing further.
- Steel Cards
With time, official merchandises gained immense popularity and were sold off worldwide to fans at often steep prices. Amongst various items, one that was alarmingly expensive was a pack of cards sold as Official 2012 London Olympics merchandise priced at £2000 – The catch is they were made of pure stainless steel.
There are only 5 countries which have consistently represented in every modern-day Olympic Games held ever since 1896 – Greece, France, Britain, Switzerland, and Australia.
- Ancient Traditions
The ancient Olympic Games saw athletes and contestants participating buck naked. Ancient Greek traditions had such traditions of doing things in the buff. Even the word gymnasium origins from the Greek word ‘Gymos’ meaning naked.