As a tribute to the 20th Anniversary of the Sydney Olympic Games our museum had planned a special display. Unfortunately, COVID-19 intervened and we had to postpone it. However, with things improving and the upcoming Tokyo Games we will now go ahead as planned in July.
Our guest speaker for July will be Kerrie Quee, a local resident of Concord, who had the honour of participating in the Olympic Torch Relay, carrying the torch along Majors Bay Road the day before the Opening Ceremony at Homebush Olympic Park. She will bring along her torch for the occasion.
Meanwhile, here is some Olympic trivia.
The modern revival of the Olympic Games, which had been abolished by the Emperor Theodosius, was the idea of an idealistic French nobleman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin. In 1894 he succeeded in convening a meeting in Paris at which 34 nations were represented. On April 6 King George of Greece proclaimed the opening of the Games.
The inaugural games of the modern Olympics were attended by as many as 280 athletes, all male, from 12 countries. Women were not allowed to compete as Coubertin thought this would be “impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic and incorrect”.
A crowd of more than 60,000 attended the opening day of competition. The first event in the Modern Olympics to be completed on opening day was the hop, step and jump. American James Connoly won it with a distance of 44 feet 11 inches and became the first Olympic gold medallist.
Due to the historical significance, the Greek hosts wanted to win the marathon above all else. Spyridon Louis set off from the city of Marathon and took the lead four kilometres from the finish line and won the race by more than seven minutes.
Hungarian swimmer Alfred Hajos won the 100m and the 1200m events. For the longer race, the swimmers were transported by boat out to sea and left to swim the required distance back to shore. Hajos later confessed that his “will to live completely overcame (his) desire to win”. Later, apparently having recovered, when asked where he had learned to swim so well, he answered: “In the water.”
Edwin Flack was Australia’s first Olympian and first gold medallist. He had originally only come to Athens as a spectator., but later decided to compete. His two gold medals were credited to Britain because Australia, at that time, had no flag. When Flack won his first event the official could not find an Australian flag so they ran up the Austrian flag as a substitute.
In the 1900 games, Stanley Rowley, a sprinter from Young, won the bronze medal in the 60, 100 and 200 metre events, before being co-opted by four British distance runners to make up the minimum team of five for the 5,000 metres cross country. England and France were the only entrants and Rowley, realising he had no chance of winning and that he would come last, wrote home and said “he could walk, roll or do anything he liked as long as he finished the race, so he decided to walk, much to the amusement of the spectators. When all the other competitors had finished, and the well placed Britons had secured the gold, Rowley still had four laps to go. He then strolled arm-in-arm with one of his team members until officials allowed him to call it a day.
A Danish journalist, Edgar Aaybe, who was covering the 1900 games was recruited into the combined Sweden/Denmark tug-of-war team to replace an ill team member. He went on to win a gold medal.
Australia has been represented at every one of the Modern Olympic Games since their revival in 1896.
Only five countries has been represented at all Summer Olympic Games – Greece, Great Britain, France, Switzerland and Australia.
More athletes than spectators attended the 1900 Paris Olympic Games.
Two Japanese pole vaulters tied for second place at the 1936 men’s pole vault event. However, they refused to participate in a tiebreaker. Instead, they cut their medals in half and then fused them together so they were half silver, half bronze.
Pigeon shooting was one of the sports on the programme in Paris in 1900. Fortunately, this shooting event was short lived. It was the only time animals were killed on purpose during an Olympic event.
The only female competitor not to have to submit to a sex test at the 1976 Summer OIlympics was Princess Anne of the UK, who was competing as a member of the UK equestrian team. As the daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, such a test was seen as inappropriate.
The first Games to be held in the southern hemisphere were in Melbourne in 1956.
Australian Cathy Freeman lit the cauldron at the start of the Sydney 2000 Games, and went on to win the 400m. She is the only person to light the Olympic Flame and win a gold medal at the same Games.
The idea of the Olympic torch or Olympic Flame was first inaugurated in the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. The modern Olympic torch relay was first instituted at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
The Olympic Oath was introduced in 1920.