27    Jul 20122 comments

Olympics: An historic look at a modern event

The opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics - the Games of the XXX Olympiad - begin tonight in London.

The largest international sporting event in the world takes place every four years; it is the third time that it has been held in London. The last time was in 1948.

The first modern edition of the games was organized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Athens in 1896. The original Olympics - with nude athletes - took place in ancient Olympia, Greece, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD.

The Olympics is an historical event enjoyed for generations. Participating - as a competitor or spectator - connects you to your ancestors who also lived through the moment.

We've trawled the Internet to find weird and wonderful historic Olympic facts. Here are some of them:

The first winner
The first-ever winner of the modern Olympics was Harvard University student James Connolly (US) in 1896, in Athens. Then, the trophy of choice was the silver medal - not the gold - and he received it for winning the triple jump.

Women and spectators
The second modern games - 1900 in Paris - saw women competing for the first time. More athletes than spectators attended that year!

Opening ceremony
The first opening ceremonies were held at the 1908 Olympics in London, the first time the event took place in that city.

Youngest Olympian
The youngest-ever competitor was gymnast Dimitrios Loundras (Greece) who participated in the 1896 Athens Games. He was only 10 years old!

Oldest Olympian
Oscar Swahn (Sweden), 72, competed in the 1920 Athens Olympics.

Barefoot marathon
Marathon runner Abebe Bikila (Ethiopia) was the first African to win a gold medal. He competed - barefoot - in Rome's 1960 Olympics.

The 1936 Berlin Olympics were the first to be shown via a closed-circuit system to some city venues.

Olympic family
From a family perspective, tennis player Elena Baltacha (Great Britain) follows her parents' example. Her father competed in football in 1980, while her mother qualified for the same games, but didn't compete.

We asked on Facebook whether there were any Olympians in your family tree. See some  responses on our wall.

Over this year's games, we'll be sharing more information and facts about today's athletes and Olympians of old via our Facebook page and Twitter account. Stay tuned!

Search for your ancestors:

Comments (2) Trackbacks (0)
  1. The Olympics are held every two years, alternating Winter every four and Summer every four. Vancouver Canada held the Winter Olympics in 2010, etc.....
  2. Thank you for interesting information.
    Worster http://www.anysite.com/

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