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Olympics 101

A few memorable moments from the games.

By Sharon Tanenbaum and Ashley Tate
Olympic gold medalsGemma Comas and James Merrell
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.”
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