This Day in History (25-Mar-1896) – Modern Olympics began in Athens, Greece

According to legend, the ancient Olympic Games were founded by Heracles (the Roman Hercules), a son of Zeus. Yet the first Olympic Games for which we still have written records were held in 776 BCE (though it is generally believed that the Games had been going on for many years already). The ancient Olympic Games grew and continued to be played every four years for nearly 1200 years. In 393 CE, the Roman emperor Theodosius I, a Christian, abolished the Games because of their pagan influences.

Approximately 1500 years later, a young Frenchmen named Pierre de Coubertin witnessed German defeating France in 1870. He attributed the defeat of France not to its military skills but rather to the French soldiers’ lack of vigor. After examining the education of the German, British, and American children, Coubertin decided that it was exercise, more specifically sports, that made a well-rounded and vigorous person. In spite of resistance from countrymen, in 1890, he organized and founded a sports organization, Union des Sociétés Francaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA). Two years later, Coubertin first pitched his idea to revive the Olympic Games, “Let us export our oarsmen, our runners, our fencers into other lands. That is the true Free Trade of the future”

Further Coubertin organized a meeting with 79 delegates who represented nine countries. The delegates at the conference voted unanimously for the Olympic Games. The delegates also decided to have Coubertin construct an international committee to organize the Games. This committee became the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Athens was chosen as the location for the revival of the Olympic Games. Though Coubertin was not the first to propose the revival of the Olympic Games, he was certainly the most well-connected and persistent of those to do so.

On 25th March (6 April, as per new calendar) 1896, the American James Connolly won the triple jump to become the first Olympic champion in more than 1,500 years. The Games brought together 14 nations and 241 athletes who competed in 43 events. The Games have grown to about 10,500 competitors from 204 nations at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Reference:

http://www.historyorb.com/day/march/25

http://history1900s.about.com/od/fadsfashion/a/olympicshistory.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_Games

http://www.olympic.org/athens-1896-summer-olympics

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