Olympic Games Trivia
While waiting for the next Olympics, here are some fun facts about the history of the Games, its symbols and amazing achievements.
The Olympic Medal
Olympic medals since 1928 have featured the same design on the front: a Greek goddess, the Olympic Rings, the coliseum of ancient Athens, a Greek vase known as an amphora, a horse-drawn chariot, and the year, number of the Olympiad, and host city. Additionally, each host city is allowed to add special details to the design.
There will be a total of 1,838 medals awarded--604 gold, 604 silver, and 630 bronze (some Olympic events do not have third- or fourth-place winners, so losers in semi-final rounds are awarded bronze medals).
In the ancient Olympics, no medals were awarded. The first-place winner was given an olive wreath to wear on his head; second- and third-place winners received nothing.
When the Modern Olympics were revived in 1896, first-place winners received silver medals. Strangely, gold was considered inferior to silver. Eight years later, at the 1904 Games in St. Louis, gold replaced silver for first place.
Today's "gold" medals are actually sterling silver covered with a thin coat (6 grams or .21 ounces) of pure gold.
Olympic medals are 7 centimeters (approximately 2 inches) in diameter.
The Official Olympic Flag
Created by Pierre de Coubertin in 1914, the Olympic flag contains five interconnected rings on a white background.
The Olympic Motto
In 1921, Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, borrowed a Latin phrase from his friend, Father Henri Didon, for the Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius ("Swifter, Higher, Stronger").
The Olympic Oath
Pierre de Coubertin wrote an oath for the athletes to recite at each Olympic Games.
The Olympic Creed
Pierre de Coubertin got the idea for this phrase from a speech given by Bishop Ethelbert Talbot at a service for Olympic champions during the 1908 Olympic Games.
The Olympic Flame
The Olympic flame is a practice continued from the ancient Olympic Games. In Olympia (Greece), a flame was ignited by the sun and then kept burning until the closing of the Olympic Games.
The Beijing Olympics Trivia
1) China won the most gold medals at the Beijing Games with 51. They become the first country to crack the 50-gold mark since the Soviet Union in 1988. The most golds ever won in a single Olympics is 83 (United States, 1984).
2) It's the first time since 1936 that a country other than the United States or the Soviet Union has led the medal count.
3) China won more golds in Beijing (51) than they did total medals in Atlanta (50).
4) 'Project 119' was a Chinese initiative designed toward winning golds in the medal-rich sports of swimming, track, rowing, kayaking and sailing. Reports are already crediting Project 119 with China's dominance in the gold medal count, but Chinese athletes won just four golds in those sports. Their total was instead augmented by even better performances in Chinese-dominated events like diving, gymnastics and table tennis.
5) The United States won the same amount of golds (36) that they did in Athens, continuing a remarkable consistency that the nation has exhibited over the past half-century. American Olympic gold totals since 1952: 40, 32, 34, 36, 45, 33, 34, 83, 36, 37, 44, 38, 36 and 36. (The outlier of 83 was from the boycotted 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.)
6) The overall medal count was won by the United States for the fourth consecutive Olympics. The U.S. earned 110 medals, compared to China's 100.
7) Per capita, China won one gold medal for every 25 million people in the country. The United States' per capita rate was one gold for every 8.5 million. The tiny island nation of Jamaica, which won a staggering six golds in Beijing, had a per capita rate of one gold for every 450,000 residents. Had China won at that rate, the country would have earned 2,889 golds.
8) Greece won 16 medals as the host country in 2004. Four years later, the founders of the Olympics managed just four -- their lowest total since 1992.
9) African countries won a total of 40 medals, the highest total in history for the continent.
10) Six countries won their first ever Olympic medals: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Mauritius, Sudan, Tajikistan and Togo.
11) Great Britain won 47 medals, the most in their history and a 17-medal increase from Athens. Expect an even higher total in 2012, when the Games will be held in London for the first time in 68 years. The last time Great Britain competed in a Summer Olympics on its home turf, they earned a disappointing three golds.
12) India has 17% of the world's population. They won 0.31% of Olympic medals.
13) China: 19.8% of population, 10.4% of medals.
14) United States: 4.6% of population, 11.5% medals.
15) Jamaica: 0.041% of population, 1.15% medals.
16) Iceland was the least populous country to win an Olympic medal.
17) Pakistan was the most populous country not to win an Olympic medal (164 million residents, sixth-largest nation in the world).
18) Michael Phelps would have finished tied for 9th in the gold medal count, ahead of countries including France, Netherlands, Spain, Canada, Argentina, Switzerland, Brazil and Mexico.
19) The rest of the world won seven golds in men's swimming events. Phelps, of course, won eight.
20) The United States won the most golds (7) and most total medals in the track competition (23), despite having what was widely considered a disappointing meet
21) More proof that boxing is dead in the United States: the country earned just one medal (a bronze) in the 12 boxing events. Even after three straight disappointing boxing performances at the Summer Games, the U.S. has still won the most Olympic boxing medals (109) in history.
22) China won 8 out of 12 possible medals in table tennis and 7 of 8 possible golds in diving.
23) Great Britain won 7 of 10 golds in track cycling and won 12 medals overall. The rest of the world earned 18 medals in the sport.
24) National gold-medal sweeps: Basketball (USA), Beach Volleyball (USA), Rhythmic Gymnastics (RUS), Synchronized Swimming (RUS), Table Tennis (CHN) and Trampoline (CHN).
25) Sweden had the best medal tally (4 silver, 1 bronze) without winning a gold.
26) Armenia won 6 bronze medals, but no gold or silver ones.
27) Speaking of former Soviet states, members of the former Soviet Union won a total of 173 medals in Beijing.
28) In 1992, Cuba finished 5th in the gold medal count. In 2008, the nation finished 28th.
29) From 1980 to 2008, Jamaica won three Olympic golds. In a span of six days in Beijing, Usain Bolt won three.
30) Sweden was a fixture in the top-three of the overall medal count for the early part of the 20th century. In Beijing, the Scandinavian country finished 38th and was shut-out in golds for just the second time in history.
31) Panama and Mongolia won the first gold medals in their respective histories.
Nadja 16, Uzice Grammar School