20 Sports Facts about both the Ancient and Modern Olympics

Will they be there in 1000 years?

The ancient Olympics ran from 776 BC until 393 AD, that’s 1169 years! The modern Olympics have been going for just over 100 years!

Figure Skating a Summer Olympic sport!

Figure Skating made its first appearance at the Summer Olympics in London 1908 before going on to become a big part of the Winter Olympics.

Only war can stop them

The three Olympics that were cancelled because of World Wars 1 and 2 were Berlin in 1916, Tokyo in 1940 and London in 1944.

187 days of Olympics

In 1908, the London Olympics went on for 187 days; they started in April and didn’t end until October.

Winter Olympic Sports

Originally, in early Olympics, football, rugby and hockey were classed as winter Olympic sports.

Paris 1900

Times were tough for Paris in 1900 and they didn’t want to spend much on their Olympics. They held the Track and Field events in the Bois (woods) de Boulogne on an area of grass because they didn’t want to build a cinder track! They refused to cut trees down and both javelins and discuss were hitting and getting stuck in them. They used the River Seine for the swimming events and when the current was running fast, world records tumbled!

Olympic prizes

In 1900 Paris Olympics, winners got paintings instead of gold medals. Gold, silver and bronze medals weren’t given out until the third modern Olympics, in 1904. The French gave the winners paintings because they believed they were more valuable. The average weight of an Olympic medal is about 175g. In London, the gold medal weighed about 400g. 175g of 18k Gold (@$40 a gram) is worth $7000.

Very superstitious

The Beijing Olympics were opened on the 8 August at 8:08 pm because in Chinese culture, the number eight is considered lucky.

Think of something else, maybe your Grandma?

Wrestling matches in the ancient Greek Olympics were in the nude and a match would end if one of the competitors became aroused.

Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi once covered the Olympics as a newspaper reporter. He covered the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles.


Steven Bradbury won a gold medal in 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics in speed skating, because everyone in front of him crashed. In the quarter finals he progressed only due to a disqualification of a fellow racer, in the semi-finals he was in last place when all the competitors in front of him In the final he was well off the pace when all four of his competitors crashed leaving him to cruise to victory and gold.


FIFA doesn’t want the Summer Olympics to compete with their World Cup, so they only allow players 23 years and under to participate. As a compromise with the IOC, three senior football players are allowed to compete alongside the under 23s.

Stella Walsh, or is she?

Former Olympiad Stella Walsh was born Stanisława Walasiewicz of Poland. During the 1932 Olympics, she won the 100-metre race and broke the 12-second barrier. In 1980, she was discovered to be a male.

Manipulating the draw

Four doubles badminton teams, two from South Korea, one from China (who were the existing world champions) and one from Indonesia were thrown out of the 2012 Olympics for throwing matches. The teams tried to manipulate the draw to avoid the more difficult teams in the semi-finals.

Olympics were a Pagan festival!

The early Olympic Games were celebrated as a religious festival from 776 BC until 393 AD when the games were banned for being a pagan festival. The Olympics were celebrated and were a festival to the Greek god Zeus.

Melbourne Olympics held in Europe

The 1956 Melbourne Olympics had the Equestrian events hosted in Stockholm. The events had finished five months before the Melbourne games had started.

Olympic Games

The first modern Olympics in 1896 only had 300 athletes from 11 countries and just eight British. In Rio 2016, there were 11,303 athletes competing from 207 nations. The 1904 games in St Louis the poorest attended in terms of competitors and sometimes referred to as the worst of all time. Team GB sent no athletes at all!

How could that happen?

Unfortunately, Brunei didn’t compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympics because they missed the registration deadline for their athletes.

Summer and Olympic gold medallist

Only one person in the Olympics has won gold medals at both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games. At the 1920 Antwerp Summer Games, American Eddie Eagan won the light-heavyweight boxing gold. Years later, Eagan was a member of America’s gold medal-winning four-man bobsled team at the 1932 Lake Placid games.

Simply not Cricket

When the itinerary for the first Modern Olympics was being drawn up, it included both cricket and yachting. The yachting event was cancelled because they couldn’t get enough good boats and the cricket wasn’t played either.

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