Facts and History About the Olympics

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The 2016 Olympics are in full swing and athletes from around the globe are competing in multiple events to gain the title of the world’s best. It’s a global tradition that brings countries together and shines a light on some of the greatest athletes in the world. Just to compete in the Olympic games is a major accomplishment and many of the competitors train year round for the chance to take their shot at winning gold. In honor of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, here is a list of interesting facts about this tradition that dates back to 776 BC.

  • The first ancient Olympic games have been traced back to 776 BC and were originally dedicated to the Olympian gods.
  • The modern day Olympics started in 1896 and featured 280 participants from 13 nations, competing in 43 events.
  • The 5 Olympic rings represent the continents of North and South America, Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia. The rings are interlocked to symbolize friendship between all counties on each continent.
  • The Olympic flag, featuring the 5-ring symbol, was implemented for the first time at the Antwerp Games in 1920.
  • The first Winter Olympics started in 1924 and included competitions in figure skating, ice hockey, bobsledding, skiing and the biathlon.
  • For the ancient Olympics, the prize for event winners was an olive branch wreath.
  • Gold, silver, and bronze medals were first awarded at the 1904 Olympics held in St. Louis.
  • The United States has hosted the Summer Olympics more than any other nation – St. Louis in 1904, Los Angeles in 1932 & 1984, and Atlanta in 1996.
  • The Olympic flame is lit at Olympia in Greece every two years before it journeys to the next host, where it is paraded around until the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron at the opening ceremony.
  • Because of two World Wars, there were no Olympic games in 1916, 1940 or 1944.
  • The oldest Olympian is Oscar Swahn of Sweden who competed at the 1920 Olympics in shooting at the age of 72.
  • The youngest confirmed Olympian is Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras who competed in the first modern Olympic games in 1896 at the age of 10.
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