The First Summer Olympics
The first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896, in Athens, Greece. A total of 14 nations sent athletes, totalling 245 (all men). The Games took place April 615. The number of events staged that year was 43, in 9 sports.
The events that year were these:
Greece dominated the medal standings, winning 10 first place and 47 total. Second was the United States, with 19, followed by Germany with 15. The U.S. actually won more first-place medals than Greece, 11 to 10, but Greece's 19 second-place medals were the totals difference.
(Interesting side note: Winners received silver medals, second-place finishers got bronze medals, and third-place finishers got nothing at all.)
Individual medal leaders included Hermann Weingartner of Germany, with 6 and four athletes who won 4: Germans Karl Schuman and Alfred Flatow, Bob Garrett of the U.S., and Viggo Jensen of Denmark. Schuman was the first-place medal leader, winning all four of his events in gymastics and wrestling.
One fantastic story was the marathon. This event was conceived as a representation of the famous run by Pheidippides, the ancient messenger who ran from Marathon to Athens to announce the Athenians' victory over the Persians during the Persian Wars. The 1896 marathon was run over what was believed to be the same course, from Marathon to Athens. It was about 26 miles. A Greek peasant, Spiridon Louis, won the race and gained himself everlasting fame in the hearts and minds of his people. Louis was certainly not the fastest runner in the field, but he was first across the line.
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