If you think you know everything about the Olympics, think again! Here are the other interesting facts about the biggest sporting event in history that you may not know.
The early Olympic games were first held in ancient Greece as a religious festival from 776 BC until 393 AD. The games were discontinued because they were considered a pagan event.
French historian and educator Pierre de Coubertin wanted to revive the ancient Olympics and so the modern Olympics was born in 1896. He was the founder of the International Olympic Committee and thus he is considered the “father of modern Olympics”
The first Winter Olympics was held in Chamonix, France in 1924.
As you might have guessed it, the United States has won the most medals at 2,520 than any other country — those medals are won at the Summer Olympic Games.
The 2016 Summer Olympics was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It made Brazil the first South American country and the first Latin American country since 1968 to host the Olympics. Brazil is also the first country in the Southern Hemisphere since 2000 to hold an Olympic event.
A rare number of the Olympians have competed in both Summer and Winter Games, and an even rare number of them have won medals from both events:
- Eddie Eagan (United States)
- Jacob Thullin Thams (Norway)
- Christa Luding-Rothenburger (East Germany; she is also the first and only athlete to win in both Summer and Winter Olympics in the same year)
- Clara Hughes (Canada)
Swimmer Michael Phelps from the United States has won the most number of Olympic medals with 27 (23 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze), making him the “most decorated Olympian of all time.”
Nobody could ever surpass the record of Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen who has won the most medals in the Winter Games with 13 (8 gold, 4 silver, 1 bronze)
Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras is the youngest athlete to compete in Olympic history. He competed at the 1896 Games in Athens when he was 10 years and 218 days old. Loundras won a bronze medal at the event, making him also the youngest Olympic medalist ever.
If you look at the pictures of Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn — with a hat and the long and trimmed white beard at that — you’d never think this respectable gentleman is an Olympian at that stage, but he was. At 72, he became the oldest athlete ever in Olympic history when he competed at the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium.
Swahn won several medals in his Olympic career. He won a total of six, including three gold medals. He won his first medals in the 1908 London Olympics when he was already 60 years old: two gold for the running deer single shot event and a bronze for the running deer double event. Swahn’s sharp-sightedness and marksmanship hadn’t yet faltered, considering his age. It proves that you’re never too old to achieve something big.
Olympian Abebe Bikila proves that you don’t need an expensive pair of sports footwear to outrace your opponents. The Ethiopian marathon runner became the first African to win an Olympic medal, and he did so barefoot. He won the gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics in this fashion. Bikila also won another gold at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, but this time he was wearing a pair of running shoes.
Olympic gold medals are not made of pure gold, — in fact, there’s almost zero gold in them! The “gold” medals are actually made of 99% silver with a thin gold plating. The last medals to be made of solid gold were awarded at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. But it doesn’t matter much to the athletes, right? As long as they have the distinction of being a gold Olympic medalist, that would not be a big issue.
Technically, the first Olympics to be broadcast live on television was the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. But since televisions were considered a novelty and obviously global broadcasts were then unheard-of, consider yourself lucky at that time if you owned a TV set and lived in Germany to catch the games live.
Worldwide television coverage of the Olympic games became possible during the 1960s.