The history of the Games: from Olympia to Rio

The history of the Games: from Olympia to Rio

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The history of the Games: from Olympia to Rio

Pierre De Coubertin was born in Paris in 1863 and during his life he devoted himself to pedagogy and politics, he met Thomas Arnold, a renewal of the English education system, he elaborated the principles of modern sport, seen as a tool for the physical and moral growth of young people. He was absolutely convinced of the didactic power of sport and he thought that a good approach to victory and defeat in sport could be of help in life for everyone, to measure himself against himself, and to respect others. Thanks to his enormous interest in the ancient Olympics, he worked hard to bring them back to life. Many others before him had tried to revive the glories of the ancient Olympics, without success. Interest in the renaissance of the Olympic Games grew when the ruins of ancient Olympia were discovered by German archaeologists in the mid-19th century. He spent much of his own capital on travel to get nations to participate; in 1892 he obtained the approval of the French Union for Athletic Sports and on 23 June 1894 he organized a congress at the Sorbonne University in Paris designed to relaunch the Games and on that occasion the IOC, the International Olympic Committee, was founded to organize the event. The baron first assumed the office of Secretary General, but was then convinced to become its president. It only remained to decide the date and place, he wanted to bring the games home to Paris, but the Parisian government objected, and then Athens was chosen in 1896, in order to have enough time to organize everything. Thanks to him, the Olympic Games once again became a competition, a spectacle and a meeting of different peoples. Calculating the exact number of participants and nations in Athens is an epic, and still unsolved, feat. The latest research conducted by the president of the international association of Olympic historians, Bill Mallon, speaks of 177 “identified” and 245 estimated athletes (no women), of which 166 Greeks, distributed among 15 countries, considering Great Britain and Ireland together ( then under the British crown), and separated from Greece Cyprus and Smyrna. There are 9 sports, 43 races, held between 6 and 15 April 1896. The USA, with 14 athletes, won 11 golds, one more than the Greeks. The first gold in history goes to the American James Brendan Connolly who wins the triple with 13.71. In the team parallels, the youngest medalist in history competes, the Greek Dimitrios Loundras, who is 10 years and 218 days old; the oldest is a 40-year-old 10-day American shooter, Charles Waldstein.