In the beginning…
“The ancient Olympic Games were a series of athletic competitions among representatives of various city-states of Ancient Greece. They were held in honor of Zeus, and the Greeks gave them a mythological origin. Historical records indicate that they began in 776 BC in Olympia. They continued to be celebrated when Greece came under Roman rule, until the Emperor Theodosius I suppressed them in 394 AD as part of the campaign to impose Christianity as the state religion of Rome [he considered the games to be “pagan”]. The games were usually held every four years, or olympiad, which became a unit of time in historical chronologies.” (wikipedia)
Then came the modern era…
“The 1896 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the I Olympiad, was a multi-sport event celebrated in Athens, Greece, from April 6 to 15, 1896. It was the first international Olympic Games held in the Modern era. Because Ancient Greece was the birthplace of the Olympic Games, Athens was perceived to be an appropriate choice to stage the inaugural modern Games. It was unanimously chosen as the host city during a congress organized by Pierre de Coubertin, a French pedagogue and historian, in Paris, on June 23, 1894. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was also instituted during this congress.” (wikipedia)
1. “The history of first Olympic Games, Athens, 1896 – Events and Winners.” It is an interesting video if you have time to watch it (6:41). There were “9 disciplines, 14 countries and only 300 athletes” and of course only men could participate. Booooooo.
Winners: 1st Place – USA with 11 gold medals; 2nd Place – Greece with 10 gold medals; 3rd Place – Germany with 7 gold medals
The 1900 games were held in Paris (women were allowed to participate). The 1904 games were in St. Louis and of the 650 total participating athletes, 580 were from the United States (*sideye*). And then in 1908, Rome was supposed to host the games but they couldn’t get it together in time soooooo the games were moved to…
2. London, 1908 Games
Embedding is disabled (just my luck) but you may click here and view at your pleasure.
Looks very different now doesn’t it?
3. Jesse Owens
He won 4 gold medals in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He won the gold in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and the long jump.
4. And of course there was the 1968 Black Power Salute (Mexico City Games)
Winners in the 200m run – Tommie Smith (1st Place) and John Carlos (3rd Place) received their medals shoeless and wearing black socks to represent black poverty. Also, “Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride, Carlos had his tracksuit top unzipped to show solidarity with all blue collar workers in the U.S. and wore a necklace of beads which he described “were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage.” (wikipedia)
And then came the famous salute. The head of the Olympic committee ordered them to be suspended from the US team and banned from the Olympic village. Initially the US refused to suspend them and had to relent when the IOC threatened to ban the entire team. That threat resulted in Smith and Carlos being expelled from the Games.
Smith: “If I win, I am American, not a black American. But if I did something bad, then they would say I am a Negro. We are black and we are proud of being black. Black America will understand what we did tonight.” #realtalk
5. GYMNASTICS! I included this just because I thought it was a cool video.
And now Gabby Douglas will join the group!!!