The games have changed considerably from their ancient beginnings in Olympia, Greece, in 776 B.C. (Good-bye, togas! Hello, scientifically engineered tracksuits!) Here are some memorable moments in its long history that you may not have heard of―read on, and let the games begin!
- During the Paris games of 1900, a Dutch rowing pair needed a last-minute replacement coxswain, so they recruited a French boy. The “international” team won, but afterward the unknown coxswain disappeared and his identity remains a mystery.
- Talk about performance enhancing: U.S. runner Fred Lorz rode in a car for much of the 1904 marathon course in St. Louis. He crossed the finish line first with an outstanding time but was later disqualified.
- Also in 1904, athletes were awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals for the first time. Before that, top finishers received a silver medal and an olive branch. It wasn’t until 1960, in Rome, that the medals were hung around the athletes’ necks.
- The women’s marathon became an Olympic event only in 1984―56 years after Olympic doctors claimed that women who ran even 800 meters would “become old too soon.”