The 2012 Summer Olympic games have just begun! This year, the city of London has been honored to hold this world event (third time in the history). The Olympic Games have a rich history and much of that is extremely interesting. Below are five interesting Olympics facts you may not know.
1. The Olympic Flag
This is one of the most famous symbol of the olympic, the olympic flag was created by Pierre de Coubertin in 1914. It has 5 interconnected rings on a white background. These represent the major continents and the interconnection stands for the friendships that ought to be brought by these competitions.
The rings are in black, blue, green, yellow and red colors. It is interesting to note that at least one of these colors appears on the national flags of all participating countries. Despite its creation in 1914, it was only in 1920 that the flag was first flown.
2. The Olympic Hymn
Spyros Samaras composed the Olympic Hymn which is played whenever the Olympic Flag is raised. However, the words were added by another individual called Kostis Palamas.
The hymn was first introduced in 1896 at Athens but it was only adopted as the official Olympic Hymn in 1957 by the International Olympic committee (IOC). Since then, it has been played every time the Olympic Flag was hosted.
3. The Olympic Oath
This is still another one of Pierre de Coubertin, the father of modern Olympics' lasting legacy on this event. It is an oath recited by one athlete who represents the rest during the opening ceremony. It binds all athletes to the Olympic spirit of true sportsmanship. Victor Boin from Belgian was the first to recite this oath in the 1920 games. It is now part and parcel of the opening ceremony.
4. The Olympic Flame
This is a practice that has continued to be practiced from the ancient Olympic Games. In ancient times in Greece, a flame that was only ignited by sun rays was left to burn until the end of the Olympic Games. The year 1928 marked the first appearance of the Olympic flame in modern competitions.
Paavo Nurmi lights the Olympic fire in Helsinki in 1952
It is a flame that symbolizes perfection and purity. Note also that this flame is always lit at Olympia by women in ancient robes. Just like in ancient times, sun rays are used to light the flame. The flame is then passed from one runner to another from Olympia till it reaches the host city's stadium. The flame lights until the games are over.
5. The First Marathon
Marathon is a well-known competition but did you know it first appeared as an olympic competition?
Beautiful marathon photo (source: wikipedia.org)
Legend has it that in 490 BCE a Greek soldier by the name of Pheidippides ran a distance of about 25 miles from Marathon to Athens. He did this so as to inform the Athenians of the results of their battle with Persians who were invading Athens at the time. Irrespective of the fact that this was a daunting task considering the terrain and other obstacles, he arrived totally exhausted and his feet were bleeding. After recounting the victory against the Persians in the war, Pheidippides dropped dead on the ground.
During the first modern Olympic Games held in 1896, a race of approximately 25 miles (40 km) was held in remembrance of this legendary figure. The length was changed later and it is only in 1926, that the current length (26 miles and 385 yards or 42.195 kilometres) became the official marathon distance.