Hi there – I’m having such a great time watching the 2012 Summer Olympics with my family! I’m using it as an opportunity to teach my son about the importance of sportsmanship, setting goals and working hard to achieve them. Here are some educational (and really interesting!) facts about the Olympic Games that I put together for you to share with your kids.
Don’t forget: this is a great opportunity to keep them engaged and learning all summer long! – Slim
- The first Olympics took place in Olympia, Greece more than 2700 years ago!
- The modern Olympic event, Boxing, was also part of the ancient olympics.
- 1500 years passed between the end of the ancient olympics and the beginning of the modern Olympics.
- The Olympic rings stand for “concordance” or “harmony” among nations.
- At first, the Olympics were only 1 day long.
- The early Olympic Games were celebrated as a religious festival from 776 B.C. until 393 A.D., when the games were banned for being a pagan festival (the Olympics celebrated the Greek god Zeus). In 1894, a French educator Baron Pierre de Coubertin, proposed a revival of the ancient tradition, and thus the modern-day Olympic Summer Games were born.
- Host Greece won the most medals (47) at the first Olympic Summer Games in 1896.
- The first Winter Olympic Games were held in Chamonix, France in 1924.
- Norway has won the most medals (263) at the Winter Games.
- The United States has won more medals (2,189) at the Summer Games than any other country.
- Up until 1994 the Olympics were held every four years. Since then, the Winter and Summer games have alternated every two years.
- The first Olympics covered by U.S. television was the 1960 Summer Games in Rome by CBS.
- No country in the Southern Hemisphere has ever hosted a Winter Games.
- Three continents – Africa, South America, and Antarctica – have never hosted an Olympics.
- A record 202 countries participated in the 2004 Olympic Summer Games in Athens.
- Only four athletes have ever won medals at both the Winter and Summer Olympic Games: Eddie Eagan (United States), Jacob Tullin Thams (Norway), Christa Luding-Rothenburger (East Germany), and Clara Hughes (Canada).
- Speed skater Bonnie Blair has won six medals at the Olympic Winter Games. That’s more than any other American athlete.
- Nobody has won more medals at the Winter Games than cross-country skier Bjorn Dählie of Norway, who has 12.
- Larrisa Latynina, a gymnast from the former Soviet Union, finished her Summer Olympic Games career with 18 total medals—the most in history.
- The Summer Olympic sports are archery, badminton, basketball, beach volleyball, boxing, canoe / kayak, cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, field hockey, gymnastics, handball, judo, modern pentathlon (shooting, fencing, swimming, show jumping, and running), mountain biking, rowing, sailing, shooting, soccer, swimming, synchronized swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, track and field, triathlon (swimming, biking, running), volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling.
- The Winter Olympic sports are alpine skiing, biathlon (cross-country skiing and target shooting), bobsled, cross-country skiing, curling, figure skating, freestyle skiing, ice hocky, luge, Nordic combined (ski jumping and cross-country skiing), skeleton, ski jumping, snowboarding, and speed skating.
What is the Olympic creed?
« The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well. »
Are the gold medals real gold?
No! They were solid gold until 1912, but are now silver covered with a thin layer of gold.
Why do we have the Olympic rings as the emblem of the Olympic Games?
The five interlocking rings (blue, yellow, black, green, and red respectively) of the emblem was originally designed in 1913 by Pierre de Coubertin, to symbolize the five continents of the world taking part in the Olympic Games (the Americas are viewed as a single continent, and Antarctica is omitted).
Did women compete in this first modern Olympic Games?
No! Women began to compete in 1900. For many years there were problems for the women athletes about what to wear, because it was considered very rude to show any part of the body or even the shape of the body! Can you imagine trying to run and jump covered from head to foot in clothes?
The Children’s Promise
The Olympic games are a great chance for adults and children to come together and celebrate sport. That’s why the people in charge of the Olympic games in London have come up with something called the ‘Children’s Promise’. Every child born in the UK on the 20th December 2004 will have the opportunity to play a special part in the 2012 Olympic games. There will be many ceremonies and events happening during the 2012 Olympics, and the Children’s Promise children will be invited to take part in all the excitement.