Sunday, August 10, 2008

U.S.A. - Rockin' the Olympics since 1904

So I was clicking around Sports Illustrated and came across these interesting facts.

In 1904 the US took home 239, or 86%, of the total medals. Of course, the only other countries competing and earning a medal were Germany, Cuba, Canada, Hungary, Britain, Greece, Switzerland, and Austria. Quite a short list. Another interesting fact: Chicago was supposed to host the 1904 Olympics, but lost the bid due to St. Louis' celebration of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, which wouldn't allow another international event to take place anywhere other than St. Louis. So there it was held. There was some guy with a wooden leg who won six medals (three were gold!) even though he had a wooden leg from being run over by a train (George Eyesor).

Since I love random facts, here are a few more:
  • The first Olympics was held in 776 BCE. If you're in any field related to Classics, this is a fact you already know. Lots of texts speak of "the year after the first Olympiad..."etc.
  • The 1916 Olympics were to be held in Berlin, Germany but were canceled due to WWI.
  • The U.S. has hosted the Olympics four times: St.Louis (1904), Los Angeles (1932), Los Angeles (1984), Atlanta (1936).
  • In 1936 Carl Diem (an Olympic organizer) had a torchbearer's ceremony at the stadium at Delphi (site of the Delphic oracle) and erected a stone to carve the Olympic rings, which became official in 1914, onto. In the 1950s two British authors reported in "History of the Ancient Games" that the rings as a symbol must have originated in Greece.
  • The "mascots" for the 2008 Olympics include a fish, giant panda, Olympic flame, Tibetan antelope, and swallow (see top image). Their forms are kind of hard to distinguish.
  • The US has won a total of 2404 medals, including both summer and winter games. Russia has the next most, with 1202 total.
  • Through 2006, 15104 medals have been awarded.
Most of this stuff came from Wikipedia, a very credible source indeed.

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