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1896 Summer Olympics

The Games of the I Olympiad were held in 1896 in Athens, Greece. These were the first celebration of the Olympic Games since the recreation of the ancient Greek Olympics with the founding of the International Olympic Committee in 1894.

Games of the I Olympiad
Nations participating14
Athletes participating245 (245 men, 0 women)
Events43 in 9 sports
Opening ceremoniesApril 6, 1896 (1)
Closing ceremoniesApril 15, 1896
Officially opened byGeorge I of Greece
Athlete's Oathnot applicable
Judge's Oathnot applicable
Olympic Torchnot applicable
(1) At the time, Greece still used the Julian calendar,
according to which the dates are March 25 to April 3.

Table of contents



Day 1

The first competitions to be held at the modern Olympic Games are the heats of the 100 m track and field event. All three heats are won by Americans. The first final of the Games is the triple jump, which is won by American James Connolly, thereby becoming the first Olympic Champion since the fourth century CE. A second final held is the discus throw, where American Robert Garrett beats the Greeks, who are sad to lose this classical Greek event. Garrett, who did not previously compete in this event as it was re-introduced at these Games, had been practising with a massive discus. When he arrived in Athens, he noticed that the discusses here were much easier to throw.

Day 2

In the Zappeion, the first fencing events takes place, the foil[?] for amateurs and for fencing masters. The latter event is the first event to be held especially for professionals. This is remarkable, as the Olympics did not, for a long time, allow professional athletes to compete, with the sole exception of fencing. The final of the amateur foil event is a French battle, won by Eugène-Henri Gravelotte. The fight between the two master fencers on foil is won by Leonidas Pyrgos, which thereby becomes the first Greek Olympic Champion of the modern era.

In the stadium, the Americans continue their dominance in athletics, winning the long jump (through Ellery Clark), the shot put (Garrett, winning his second title) and the 400 m (Tom Burke). A fourth track and field event, the 1500 m, is won by Teddy Flack of Australia.

The weightlifting contests are also conducted in the Olympic stadium, with Launceston Elliot of Great Britain and Viggo Jensen of Denmark taking a first and a second place each in the single-hand and double-hand contests.

Day 3

In the morning, preliminary events of the shooting competition are held, while the first tennis matches are also played. The only final event of the day takes place at the cyclodrome at New Phaliron[?], where the 100 km race is contested. The event proves to be tiring for both cyclists and spectators. Of the two finishing cyclists, Léon Flameng[?] of France takes first place.

Day 4

The rifle shooting event over 200 m is concluded, with a Greek winner: Pantelis Karasevdas[?]. There's more success for the Greeks, as Ioannis Georgiadis[?] wins an all-Greek final in the sabre event.

The third stadium day is openend by the 800 m, where Teddy Flack takes his second title of the Games. In the first gymnastics competitions, Germany takes the titles in both the parallel bars event for teams and the horizontal bar event, though they are the only entrant in the latter competition. The German gymnastic successes continue in the individual events, winning two more titles: Carl Schuhmann[?] wins the horse vault, while Hermann Weingärtner[?] takes first in the horizontal bar. The two other events, the rings and the pommel horse are won by Ioannis Mitropoulos[?] of Greece and Louis Zutter[?] of Switzerland, respectively.

Day 5

At this day, a new event was conducted at the Olympics. A long-distance running event, the marathon, had been conceived by Frenchman Bréal[?]. The event was named after the legendary solier Pheidippides, who was said to have run the distance from the town of Marathon to Athens, after the Greek army defeated the Persians there in 490 BC. The Greeks were very enthousiastic about the idea, and the start of the marathon race was indeed in Marathon. For historical reasons, the Greeks hoped the race would be won by a Greek, especially since the Greek track and field athletes had not yet won an event.

The crowded stadium mourns when it is announced that the Australian Teddy Flack is in the lead. However, Flack abandoned the race, after a fall, at which time the lead had been taken over by a Greek runner, the water carrier Spiros Louis[?]. As he enters the stadium under loud cheering, he is accompanied by the two Princes, who attend the Olympics with their father. Louis finishes the race in slightly less than 3 hours. The second runner to arrive is also from Greece: Kharilaos Vasilakos[?], the winner of the very first marathon race ever, the Greek selection race for the Olympics. Third is Hungarian Gyula Kellner[?], after the disqualification of a third Greek runner, who had travelled part of the course by carriage.

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10


Medals Awarded

In 1896, the winner was awarded a silver medal, the second placed athlete received a bronze medal. The third placed athlete did not receive any reward.

See the medal winners, ordered by sport:

Medal Count

PosCountry GoldSilver BronzeTotal
1United States 117220
2Greece 10181745
3Germany 65213
4France 54211
5Great Britain 2327
6Hungary 2136
7Austria 2125
8Australia 2002
9Denmark 1236
10Switzerland 1203
11Mixed Team (ZZX) 1001

Note that in 1896, no national teams existed as we know them now. Therefore, teams composed of athletes from different countries were possible.


Internal Links

External Links


  • Mallon, Bill & Widlund, Ture - The 1896 Olympic Games, Results for All Competitors in All Events, with Commentary - McFarland, Jefferson, 1998, find an excerpt of this book at [1] (http://www.aafla.org/6oic/OfficialReports/Mallon/1896.pdf)

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