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Modern Olympics

Baron Pierre de Coubertin is largely responsible for the revival of the Olympic Games. Coubertin was greatly interested in education, and he firmly believed that the best way to develop the minds of young people was to develop their bodies as well. After a visit to the ruins of ancient Olympia, Coubertin was inspired to resurrect the Olympic Games in hopes of achieving his goal of combining learning and athletics. He hoped the new Games would combine the ideals of the ancient Games, physical, mental, and spiritual excellence, while also building courage, endurance, and a sense of fair play in all who participated.

It was in 1892 that Coubertin first introduced the idea of starting the Olympic Games again. Although Pierre de Coubertin was initially met with only mild support, he founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and began planning the first modern Olympic Games. In 1896, the Olympics were held in Athens, Greece and the tradition of the Olympiad was officially re-established.

Unlike in ancient times, the modern Games encourage all nations to compete. A person may enter if his or her country is recognized by the International Olympic Committee. There are also events for women and the winners receive honors equal to those given the male winners. There are other differences between the ancient and modern Olympics. The Olympic Oath, a promise of respect and sportsmanship during the Games, was introduced in 1920. The Olympic Rings, symbolic of the five continents coming together, and the Olympic Flag were also introduced at the 1920 Games.

Some events were carried over from the ancient Olympic Games including footraces, jumping, discus and javelin throwing, boxing, and wrestling. However, Olympic contests such as cycling, canoeing and sailing, soccer, basketball, rifle shooting, tennis, and water polo were unknown in early times. One of the most grueling events of the modern Olympics is the marathon. This footrace over a distance of 26 miles, 385 yards (42.195 kilometers) is a supreme test of the runners' endurance. The marathon was not run at Olympia, but it has its origin in ancient Greece. In 490 B.C. the Athenians defeated an army of invading Persians at Marathon, which is northeast of Athens. From there, Pheidippides, a champion runner in the Olympic Games, carried the news of victory to the people of Athens. To do this he had to run a great distance and once he reached Athens and gasped out his news of victory, he died. Today the marathon is run in his honor.

The Winter Games were established in 1924 and included cold-weather sports as pair and figure skating, ice hockey, bobsledding, and the biathlon (rifle shooting on a cross-country ski course). The Winter Games were never celebrated in Ancient Greece and were a modern creation. Until 1992, the Winter Games were held in the same year as the Summer Games. Beginning in 1994, the Winter and Summer Games were held two years apart, on separate four-year cycles.

Taken from – Modern Olympic Games


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