In this article you'll find some fun facts about the Olympic Games. For even more Olympic coverage, read our articles AFTER this week's events! And if you want to experience a bit of Olympic history yourself, then visit the Centennial Olympic Games Museum at the Atlanta History Center!
The first recorded Olympic Games took place in Ancient Greece in 776 BC. The only event was a "stade," a foot race about 600 feet in length. This is where the word "stadium" originates. The athletes participated nude or "gymnos." This is where the word "gymnasium" originates.
205 different nations will be competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Greece is the only nation to have participated under its own flag in every modern Summer Olympic Games.
2012 will be London's third time hosting the Olympics, more than any other city. The United States has hosted more Olympic games than any other country, with a total of eight in six different cities.
The Official Olympic Flag
The five rings on the Olympic Flag represent the five continents from which the athletes hail. They are interconnected to symbolize the friendship to be gained. The colors of the rings - blue, yellow, black, green, and red - were chosen because at least one of them appears on the flag of every country in the world.
Citius, Altius, Fortius is Latin for Swifter, Higher, Stronger.
The medals are designed for each Olympic Games by the host city's committee. Gold medals are actually 92-1/2% silver, covered in six grams of gold. Solid gold medals haven't been awarded since the 1912 Olympics.
It Was A Tie
In 1912, the light heavyweight wrestling final lasted nine hours. Neither wrestler gained an advantage over the other, so both received a silver medal.
No Olympic Games were held in 1916, 1940, or 1944 due to World War I and World War II. Major boycotts occurred in 1980 and 1984 because of the Cold War.
To be considered for inclusion in the Olympics, an event must be "widely practiced" by men in at least 75 countries on four continents and by women in at least 40 countries on three continents. (Who knew that the hammer throw was so darn popular worldwide?)
Length of a Marathon
Many people mistakenly believe the length of a marathon (26.2 miles) dates back to 490 BC when a Greek soldier ran from Marathon to Athens to announce that the Greeks defeated the invading Persians. However, the distance between Marathon and Athens is approximately 25 miles. It wasn't until the 1908 Summer Olympics, which were also held in London, that the queen asked that the marathon begin at Windsor Castle so the Royal Children could see the start of the race and end below the Royal Box at the stadium. The distance from the castle to the stadium was 26 miles and 385 yards. For some strange reason, this became the standardized length of a marathon in 1924.
Club Swinging was an event in 1904 and 1932. Competitors swung a club decorated with ribbons around their bodies and heads. This event is considered by some to be the grandparent of modern-day Rhythmic Gymnastics.