Saturday, January 23, 2010

Olympic Facts and Trivia


(The item below is a reprint from 2008 from prior to the Beijing Olympic Games).

The first women's swimming gold medal was won by the Australian Sarah 'Fanny' Durack, who won the 100m freestyle in 1912.

The colours of the rings on the Olympic flag (designed by De Coubertin in 1914) were selected because they appear on the flag of every country in the world.

The last Olympic gold medals that were made entirely out of gold were awarded in 1912. They are now to be covered in 6 grams of gold.

There will be 28 sports at the Beijing games, 302 events are scheduled and 10,708 athletes from around the world will be competing.

The extra 385 yards in the marathon distance of 26 miles and 385 yards (42.2k) was so that the race would finish below the royal box in London 1908.


The literal meaning of "gymnasium" in Greek is "school for naked exercise." Athletes in the ancient Olympics participated in the nude.

The record for the most gold medals awarded in one Olympic Games went to American swimmer Mark Spitz in 1972. He won 7 gold medals.

In 1900 Australian Donald MacIntosh came third in the live pigeon shooting event, the first and only time animals were killed on purpose in an Olympic event. He won by killing 21 birds.

The early Olympic Games were celebrated as a religious festival from 776 B.C. until 393 A.D., when the games were banned for being a pagan festival (the Olympics celebrated the Greek god Zeus).

In 1924 Johnny Weissmuller (later Tarzan) won both the 100-metres and 400-metre races, setting world records in both. In the 400 metres, Weissmuller shaved 20 seconds off the Olympic record.

The record for most Olympic medals ever won is held by Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina. Competing in 3 Olympics, between 1956 and 1964, she won 18 medals: 9 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze.

In 1932 the flagbearer for China at the opening ceremony was sprinter Cheng Chun-liu the only participant for China.

When choosing locations for the Olympic Games, the IOC gives the honour of holding the Games to a city rather than a country.

The first Games to be televised were Berlin in 1936. The events were shown on large screens around Berlin.

The first Olympic torch relay was also held in 1936 prior to the start of the Berlin games.

The Beijing Olympics emblem comprises what looks like a runner or dancer and also mimics the Chinese character "wen" meaning humanity (renwen) or culture (wenhua). Some experts said it also resembles the character "jing" meaning the Chinese capital, or Beijing.

The first athlete to be disqualified for drug use was Swedish pentathlete Hans-Grunner Liljenwall, for excessive alcohol in Mexico City 1968.

London has hosted the Olympic Summer Games twice, 1908 and 1948. London will also host the 1912 Olympics.

The venue for the 2016 summer Olympics will be announced at the meeting of the IOC in Denmark on October 2, 2009.

Candidate cities for the 2016 Olympics are Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Toky

Winners at the 1900 Paris Olympics were given a valuable piece of art instead of a medal. At the 1936 Olympics every gold medal winner was also given an oak seedling.

Tug-of-war was an Olympic event from 1900 - 1920. Other defunct events include standing jump, rope climbing and underwater swimming.

In 1896 the winners received silver medals and crowns of olive branches, while second place finishers received bronze medals. There was no prize for third.

Eupolus of Thessaly is the first recorded cheat of the ancient Olympics. In 384 BC he was caught trying to fix the boxing competition.

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