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A Brief History of the Olympics

By: Kelly Aloia

Over the years, the Olympics have captured our hearts and patriotic spirits in a way no other sporting event can. But do you know how it all started?

History of the Olympics

More than 3,000 years ago, the Olympic Games started in Olympia, a sacred site near the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece. Originally, the games were held between August 6th and September 19th during a festival meant to honor the ancient god, Zeus.

  • Did you know? The first recorded winner of the Olympics was a man named Coreobus Ellis. He was a cook by trade and won the 192-meter footrace.

In 1896, the Olympics made a great return to their country of origin. That year, over 60,000 spectators attended the games in Athens to see 280 all male participants compete for the gold. Thirteen nations were represented, and the games consisted of 43 different events.

What does that mean?

Symbols play a huge role in both the history and the present day meaning of the Olympics.

  • The Olympic Rings were not introduced until 1920. The rings, which are made up of 5 interlocked rings, represent the continents of North and South America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia.
  • The Olympic Torch actually has no roots in ancient tradition. The torch was introduced during the 1928 games when it was lit atop a tower in Amsterdam. The relay of the torch began in 1936 in response to the rapidly growing size and popularity of the games.

Did you know?

  • The Winter Olympics were added in 1924, and the Special Olympics started in 1968.
  • In the 2016 Summer Olympics, there were 11,237 participants from 207 different nations and territories.
  • TCU had four graduates participate in the 2016 Summer Olympics: Lorrain Ugen (track and field- the United Kingdom); Edgar Crespo (swimming- Panama); Sarah Scherer (rifle- USA); and Kim Collins (100-meter dash- St. Kitts and Nevis).