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On this day – April 6th

6th April 2018 @ 6:06am – by Webteam
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First Modern Olympics

On April 6th, 1896, what are regarded as the first modern Olympics were opened in Athens, although rather limited events had taken place there in 1859, 1870, 1875 and 1888.

Another rather unlikely source of inspiration was the Wenlock Olympian Games held in Much Wenlock from 1859 onwards, and visited in 1890 by the father of the modern Olympics.

When the International Olympic Committee discussed where to hold their inaugural event, the French naturally vetoed suggestions of London . Eventually Athens was chosen, having an existing stadium of the required standard and as capital of the country where the games originated in ancient times.

The 1896 Olympiad had few events: athletics, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, swimming, tennis, weightlifting and wrestling (rowing and yachting were cancelled because of bad weather!); and of course they were all-male.

Britain and Ireland sent a small team to the Athens Games, augmented by some competitors already in the city – Frederick Keeping and Edward Battell, servants at the British Embassy, both won cycling medals, objections to their participation on the grounds they were not gentlemen amateurs given short shrift.

The first "British" champion was Indian-born Scot Launceston Elliot, who took silver in the two-hand weightlifting and went one better in the one-hand version. He also competed in the gymnastics, wrestling, and 100m. The only other British gold medallist was John Boland, on holiday in Athens, who was entered in the tennis by a Greek friend. Boland, later a Nationalist MP, won both singles and doubles (with a German partner), and politely requested an Irish rather than British flag at his second medal ceremony.

Who is regarded as the "father" of the Modern Olympics?

Click here for the answer

Baron de Coubertin


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