Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Olympics

The first record of the ancient Olympic Games was in 776 B.C. They were held in Greece every four years for 1000 years. These Games not only celebrated the body's potential but entertained the Greeks as well.

In 1894 Pierre de Coubertin, a French teacher, assembled a bunch of leaders from sports and philosophy for what he labelled the International Athletic Congress. This group, soon renamed the International Olympic Committee, revived the Games in 1896, the first of which were held once again in Greece. Since then only the two World Wars have caused an interruption, in 1916, 1940 and 1944.

At the first modern Games, there were 241 competitors, all male, from 14 nations. Women weren't permitted to participate until 1900. In Beijing next month, there will be roughly 10, 500 athletes from 202 countries. Additionally, they are expecting 22,000 media representatives and require 180,000 staff members to pull everything together. Then there are the probable seven million spectators. My how the Games have grown.

Ah yes, I can see you've now guessed my third sports interest. The Olympics. I absolutely adore them, summer and winter both. If I could, I would do little else during the 17 days they last but watch non-stop. It doesn't even matter to me which sport is featured or who the athletes are. I want to see them all, even the lesser known ones who don't stand a chance of medalling. Seeing the expressions on their faces as they have the honor of representing the countries they are so proud of, giving it their all, is sometimes so much more moving than viewing the best of the best. I really wish they would show more of the nobodies. To me, that's what the Olympic spirit is all about.

For those of you who didn't mark your calenders when you got them last December, the Games of the XXIX Olympiad begin at exactly 8:08 pm Beijing time, on August 8, 2008. Odd? No, not if you know that in China, eight is considered to be very lucky.

This year there are 31 different sports that will have medals awarded. Did you know that until 1912, the gold medals were solid gold? After that they were replaced with ones that are 92.5% silver with six grams of gold coating.

One more interesting comparison for you and then I'll end today's history lesson. The torch relay began in 1936. There were 3422 runners who carried it from Olympia, Greece to Berlin, Germany. This year there are 21,880 torch bearers that cover 85,000 miles (137,000 km) over 130 days.

I'll try not to go overboard with this topic throughout the next month but I assure you it will come up again. As I said, I love the Olympics and there's all sorts of interesting trivia that I can share with you. Don't say you weren't warned!


Anny Cook said...

I love the Olympics also! Thank you very much for the refresher course!

Ashley Ladd said...

What interesting trivia. Over 3400 torch runners? That's amazing.

Amarinda Jones said...

I love to see Aussie's win - I have no idea what sport they are playing - but it makes me proud.

Regina Carlysle said...

The sport doesn't matter to me, either. I love it all. What amazing young athletes and when I imagine how hard they've worked to get ready, it just makes me admire them more. I never miss either summer or winter olympics.