The 2016 Olympic Games ran last month from August 5 to 21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Nearly 11,000 of the world’s best athletes competed in 42 sports, doing their best to represent their countries and bring home the gold. Here are some facts about how this sporting tradition began and how it has changed over the centuries.
Instead of bronze, silver and gold medals, winners were awarded crowns made of a wreath of olive leaves.
The First Event
The first recorded Olympic contest was held in Olympia, Greece, in 776 BCE. There was only one event, a foot race that was believed to be about 200 metres. The games would be held every four years, and as time went on, new sports were introduced, such as boxing, wrestling and chariot racing.
The USA has won more gold, silver and bronze medals than any other nation at the Summer Olympics. It has also hosted the Games more than any other nation – four times in total: St Louis 1904, Los Angeles 1932 and 1984, and Atlanta 1996.
Everyone knows the iconic Olympic rings, but do you know what they mean? Pierre de Coubertin brought back the Olympics with the goal of encouraging young people to be active and to promote sportsmanship and peace among nations. So the five rings of the Olympic flag represent Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and the Americas: they are linked together in friendship. Every national flag of the world has at least one of the ring’s colours: blue, black, green, yellow and red.
Hosted the Most
London, United Kingdom, hosted the Summer Olympics in 1908, 1948 and 2012, making London the only city to host the event on three occasions.
The Modern Olympics
Inspired by the ancient Olympic games, French educator and aristocrat Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee and led the organisation to hold the first modern Olympic games in Athens in 1896, with 280 athletes from 12 countries.