- In 1896, the first year of the Olympics, there were no gold medals. The winners each received a silver medal and an olive branch. The runners-up received a bronze medal and there was nothing for third place. Gold medals were introduced at the 1904 St. Louis games. The last time gold medals presented at the Olympics were made of real gold was at the 1912 games. Nowadays, gold medals are actually 92.5% silver with just 1% gold plating.
- The Winter Olympics didn’t even exist until 1924, and were thereafter held a few months after the Summer Olympics and in a different city. In 1994, everything changed when the Winter and Summer Olympics started being held 2 years apart.
- The record for the oldest person to win an Olympic gold medal is held to this day by Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn (1847-1927). He won it at the 1912 Olympics at the age of 64. At age 72, he was not only a medalist but the oldest sportsman ever to compete at the Olympics.
- Traditionally, doves were released during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games to signify peace but this was abandoned after what happened at Seoul in 1988. Instead of circling above the stadium, about ten of them decided to perch on the rim of the Olympic cauldron……. unfortunately, just as it was being lit. They were instantly burned to death.
- Disaster at the 1976 Montreal Games – a sudden rainstorm put out the Olympic flame. A helpful official quickly relit it with his cigarette lighter. Horrified organizers quickly put it out again and immediately re-lit it, only this time using a backup Olympic torch, ensuring that the original Olympic flame was perpetuated.
- Up until 2016, no country in the Southern Hemisphere has ever hosted a Winter Games. Two continents – Africa and Antarctica – have never hosted any Olympics.
Stanislawa Walasiewicz (aka Stella Walsh), won the women’s 100 meter race at the 1932 Olympics at Los Angeles, becoming the first woman to break the 12-second barrier. When she was killed in a robbery in 1980, her autopsy revealed her to be a male.
- The five Olympic rings represent the five major regions of the world – Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceana, and every national flag in the world includes one of the five colors, which are (from left to right) blue, yellow, black, green, and red.
- Johnny Weissmuller who won five gold swimming gold medals at the 1924 and 1928 Games never lost a race. He won 52 US National championships and set 67 world records. He went on to star as Tarzan in 12 movies. Although he was the sixth actor to play the part, he is by far the best known. His distinctive Tarzan yell is still used in films. Apparently, he was originally named Peter, but used his brother’s name when he became successful as a swimmer, because his brother was a US citizen by birth, whereas “Peter” was not. This enabled him to represent the US at the Olympics (Paris, 1924 and Amsterdam, 1928). In 1950, the Associated Press announced he was the greatest swimmer of the first half of the 20th Century.
At the Paris Games in 1900 there were more athletes than spectators.
- Dimitrios Loundras was a Greek gymnast who took part in the Athens Olympics held in 1896. He was an amazing 10 years and 218 days old when he won his medal, making him the world’s youngest Olympian.
- 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 1894, a French educator Baron Pierre de Coubertin, proposed a revival of the ancient tradition, and this the modern-day Olympic Summer Games were born.
The original Olympic flame (i.e. the flame at the ancient Olympics) was ignited by the sun and kept burning throughout the Games. In the modern Olympics, it was reintroduced at the Amsterdam Olympics of 1928. It signifies purity of intention, among other things, and a burning desire to attain perfection.
- The 1936 Berlin Olympics (also known as the “Nazi” Olympics) were the first Olympic Games to ever be televised. Before the advent of television, sports fans had to make due with radio commentary and before radios you could only read about the results of the events in the newspaper.
- In ancient Greece, athletes didn’t have to worry about endorsements on their jerseys or shorts….. because they weren’t wearing any! That’s right, competitors back in the day had to strut around in the buff and only men were allowed to compete.
These interesting ditties were obtained at: real-memory-improvement.com, factmonster.com