Eight Olympic facts we bet you don't know

The athletes at this year's Olympics have done a truly outstanding job - with some more incredible achievements still to come. But as the last week of the Olympics is unfortunately upon us we thought we’d introduce you to some slightly obscure facts we bet you don’t know about the games.


The Olympics were originally a religious festival

From 776 B.C the early Olympic Games were a pagan festival that celebrated the Greek God Zeus – who lived on Olympus. However the games were banned in 393 A.D and not brought back until 1894 when a Frenchman called Baron Pierre de Coubertin proposed a revival of the ancient tradition.

Olympic medals were first used in 1904

Although the Olympics Games were revived in 1894 the first medals weren’t awarded until 1904. It was at this point that the decision to give first place gold, second place silver and third place bronze was brought into tradition.

The first winter games came much later than the summer games

Even though the summer Olympics were brought back in 1894, the first winter Olympics did not take place until 1924. These games were originally called ‘International Winter Sports Week’ with the first being held in Chamonix in France between January 25th and February 5th 1924.

The USA has won 1,000 medals more than any other country

The United States of America have won 2,399 Summer Olympic medals since they began competing in the games. The next highest number of medals belonged to the Soviet Union, (a socialist state on the European continent that existed from 1922 to 1991), with 1010 medals, then Great Britain with 780, France with 671 and Germany with 573.

The Olympic rings represent five world continents

The five regions that the rings represent are Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Australia. Every national flag in the world includes one of the five colours that make up the interlocking rings; blue, yellow, black, green and red.

The USA has hosted the Summer Olympics the most

The Summer Olympics has taken place in the USA more times than any other nation. The USA has hosted the games four times in total; St Louis 1904, Los Angeles 1932 & 1984, and Atlanta 1996.

Australia hosted the first Summer Olympics in the Southern Hemisphere

The Summer Olympics were held in Melbourne, Australia in 1956. These Olympics were the first that had ever been hosted outside of the northern hemisphere; however, the equestrian events for these games had to be held in Sweden 5 months earlier due to foot and mouth quarantine.

Only 4 athletes have medals from both summer and winter games

  1. Eddie Eagan (United States) won a Summer Olympic gold for boxing in 1920 and his winter gold for four-man bobsled in 1932.
  2. Jacob Tullin Thams (Norway) won the first Winter Olympic ski jumping gold medal in 1924 and won a silver medal as part of the 8-metre sailing team in the 1936 Summer Olympics.
  3. Christa Luding-Rothenburger (Germany) is the only Olympian to win medals in the same year (1988) at both the Summer and Winter Olympics – a feat that is no longer possible due to the staggering of the games. Christa won her Winter Olympic medals for speed skating in 1984, 1988 and 1992 as well as her Summer Olympic medal for cycling in 1988.
  4. Clara Hughes (Canada) has won six Olympic medals from 1996 to 2010. She won two medals at the 1996 Summer Olympics for cycling and four medals for speed skating at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics.

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