Since you’re probably not competing in the London Games, your best bet for standing out from the crowd may be in the area of Olympics trivia. With that in mind, here are eight facts that you can slip into conversation at the water cooler. Hurry, while there’s still time.
- Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin is considered the founder of the modern Olympics, which began in 1896 in Athens, Greece. Coubertin pushed for the inclusion of an arts competition, which became part of the games in 1912. From that time until 1948, 151 medals were awarded in the areas of sport-themed architecture, music, painting, sculpture, and literature.
- Women first joined the Games in Paris in 1900, with 22 females competing in tennis and golf.
- In the 1904 Olympics, held in St. Louis, Missouri, in conjunction with the World’s Fair, George Eyser won gold for the vault, parallel bars, and rope climbing, all after having lost his left leg in a train accident when he was a child. He competed with a wooden prosthesis.
- The 1912 Games in Stockholm, Sweden, were the first to include athletes from all five continents.
- The five rings on the Olympic flag represent the five continents, while their five colors—blue, black, red, yellow, and green—plus the white of the background, includes at least one color from the flag of every country in the world. The flag was first used in 1920.
- In the 1924 Paris Olympics, Dr. Benjamin Spock, author of the famous Baby and Child Care, won a gold medal as part of the US rowing team.
- At the 1964 Tokyo Games, the final torchbearer was Yashinori Sakai, who was born in Hiroshima on the day that the US dropped an atomic bomb on the city.
- The 2012 Summer Games in London mark the first time every participating country has sent at least one female athlete, with Brunei, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia adding women to their delegations.
And to round it all off, you’ll also want to have the following ready for when someone asks, “Where will next Olympics be?”
- The 2014 Winter Games will be held in Sochi, Russia, February 7-23.
- The 2016 Summer Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 5-21.
- The 2018 Winter Games will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, February 9-25.
(How Well Do You Know the Olympic Games? The Olympic Museum; “Factsheet: The Games of the Olympiad,” International Olympic Committee, May 2012 update; “‘Sporting Art’ An Olympic Event Left by the Wayside,” National Public Radio, July 27, 2012; “Test Your Olympic Trivia Knowledge,” National Public Radio, July 28, 2012; Scott Stump, “For First Time, Women from Every Nation Ready to Rock Olympics,” TODAY in London, July 24, 2012)
[photo: “Olympic Rings,” by Danny Nicholson, used under a Creative Commons license]