2012 Olympic History
776 BC - 393 AD
The Olympic Games were the brainchild of Lycourgos, King of Sparta. In 776 BC he was drawn into a treaty with Ifitos and Cleisthenes the King of Pissa. The treaty was reaffirmed every four years at a meeting which featured a race between the three Greek provinces. The four-year period was an Olympiad.
The games endured for twelve continuous centuries. The races and sports were held at Olympia and gradually became very ceremonial, attracting huge crowds from all over Greece. When the games were abolished in 393 AD their collapse symbolised the final decay of Ancient Greece.
1894 - 1920
1894 - Baron de Coubertine staged a revival of the ancient Olympian Games at the Sorbonne, with mainly French contestants. This sparked the rebirth of the Olympic Games.
Athens 1896 – The first modern Olympics featured athletes from 14 countries. The USA dominated, winning 9 of 15 athletic events.
Paris 1900 – Women took part for the first time. The first female winner was Britain’s Charlotte Cooper who won the tennis.
London 1908 – Vesuvius erupted, the Italian government was financially crippled and the games moved to London.
Antwerp 1920 – The Athlete’s Oath and famous flag were introduced symbolising the union of the continents.
1924 - 1964
Paris 1924 – These games were immortalised in the Oscar-winning 1981 film 'Chariots of Fire' which told the story of Scotsman Eric Liddell and Jew Harold Abrahams who both competed for Britain in athletics.
Berlin 1936 – Hitler’s plans to demonstrate the supremacy of the Aryan Race were foiled by African-American sprinter and long jumper Jesse Owens, who trounced the Nazi athletes and won four gold medals.
London 1948 – Dutchwoman, Fanny Blankers-Koen, won the 100m, 200m, and 80m hurdles and ran a leg on the winning relay team. A rule prevented women from competing in more than three events.
Helsinki 1952 – The Soviets returned to the competition and their female gymnasts began an unbeaten run that lasted almost as long as the USSR.
Tokyo 1964 – South Africa was officially banned from the games for the enforcement of apartheid.
1968 - 1988
Mexico City 1968 – The first athlete to be banned for drug abuse was sent home after testing positive for alcohol.
Munich 1972 – These games were overshadowed by the kidnapping of the Israeli team by Palestinian gunmen in the second week. All of the Israeli team were eventually killed along with the hostage takers.
Moscow 1980 – The US-led boycott seriously undermined these games. Only 80 countries attended what would otherwise have been an incredible games.
Los Angeles 1984 – A revenge boycott depleted these games, but a record 140 nations took part and it was a spectacular year, particularly on the track where Carl Lewis equalled Jesse Owen's record.
Seoul 1988 – Canadian Ben Johnson exploded out of the blocks, decimating Carl Lewis and smashing the world record. The next day he was exposed as a drug cheat, stripped of his medal and his career ruined.
1992 - 2004
Barcelona 1992 – Basketball was thrown open to professionals. The men’s event became a showcase for the American Dream Team, an incredible collection of the game’s greats, including Michael Jordan.
Atlanta 1996 – The worst Olympics in living memory. The suffocating heat stopped records being broken. Outgoing IOC President, Juan Antonio Samaranch, refused to label them the best ever games in his closing speech.
Sydney 2000 – This superb Games was dominated by 17 year old Ian Thorpe, who ruled the pool with his incredible speed, style and huge feet! Steve Redgrave (GBR) became the first person to win five consecutive gold medals with victory in the rowing.
Athens 2004 - The Olympics returned to their ancient heartland for a memorable games. Sceptics feared the stadiums would be half-built, but in the end Athens was a triumph. Britain made a good showing in the medals, and did very well in the Paralympics, which were watched by millions. This was the first games at which the heroism of Paralympic competitors was properly celebrated.
2008 - 2012
The controversial decision to award China their first ever Olympics has already sparked celebration and Olympic hysteria across the nation.
Watch this space...
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11 Dec 2002 – Britain rumour...
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