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The Olympic Games are regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition. The games are a major international sporting event featuring summer and winter sports. Thousands of athletes from around the world participate in a variety of competitions during Olympics held every four years.
From the very beginning for ancient Greece and its neighboring countries, the Olympics have developed into a worldwide, commercially oriented event. The origin of Olympics can be traced to the ancient Greeks who dedicated it to God Zeus.
In Greece the games were held on the plains of Olympia every four years. The four-year period between the Olympic Games was called an Olympiad. The first Olympic game was recorded in 776 BC; that was about 3,000 years ago. Women were neither allowed to compete in the games nor to watch them, because the games were dedicated to Zeus and were therefore meant for men.
The ancient Olympics did not have many events. In the first thirteen Olympic Games, there was only one event called sprint- a short run that was called the "stade". The sprint event was about one hundred and eight meters in length. The race was run by men who competed in the nude. A wreath of olive branches, called as kotinos in Greek was placed on the winner's head.
The Crown Olive was the most coveted, and only, prize won at Olympia. The olive tree was considered as the sacred tree of Athens, Greece. The prize the winners received included free food and lodging for life. Winners were lauded in poems, their figures set in sculpture, and their achievements were known throughout Greece. To put it simply, winning the Olympic Games made you a hero in the eyes of the people.
Nowadays different medals are designed for each new Olympics. Victory diplomas known as Certificates are also given to many top winners in each sport. Even the presence of an individual during the Games was an honour. All the famous people of the time attended the Games. People from Italy, Sicily, Asia, Africa, and Spain all made the long journey to Olympia.
For a period of 1,170 years, the Greeks held Olympics, which continued to grow and change. They had generally two major events Equestrian and Pentathlon. Later on many other sports were added, including other races, wrestling, boxing, pentathlon (five events, including the long jump, javelin throw, discus throw, foot race, and wrestling), and equestrian events (events with horses and people, like chariot races and horse races).
In the year AD 394, the Olympic Games were banned by the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II. Fifteen hundred years later a French educator and sportsman Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin revived the Olympic Games. An all-male Olympic games were held in 1896, in Athens, Greece. The first winter Olympics were held in 1924, in Chamonix, France.
The motto of Olympic is, "Citius, Altius, Fortius," which means "Swifter, Higher, Stronger."
The tradition of the Olympic flame began during the ancient Olympic Games, over 2700 years ago in Greece. A flame was lit for each Olympics, every four years, and it burned throughout the games. The flame symbolized the death and rebirth of Greek heroes. During the games this flame begins its Olympic Torch Relay by touring Greece.
The flame is normally taken to the host country usually by an airplane. The flame is extinguished during the closing ceremony. A new Olympic torch is designed for each of the games. The first torch relay took place at the 1936 games in Berlin, Germany.
The flag of the Olympic Games has been designed by Baron de Coubertin in 1913-1914. The flag has five interlocking rings in the colour of blue, yellow, black, green, and red on a white background. The rings represent the five parts of the world that were joined together in the Olympic movement: Africa, America, Asia, Australia and Europe. The Olympic flag was first used in the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium. The Olympic flag is paraded during the opening ceremony of each Olympic Games.
The Olympics are held every four years which means the winter and summer games are always two years apart. The events in the Summer Olympics include: archery, badminton, baseball, basketball, boxing, canoeing, cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, football (soccer), gymnastics, handball, hockey, judo, kayaking, marathon, pentathlon, ping pong, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, taekwando, tennis, track and field (many running, jumping, and throwing events), triathlon, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting and wrestling (freestyle and Greco-Roman).
The events in the Winter Olympics include: ice hockey, figure skating, speed skating, snowboarding, luge, bobsleigh, skeleton (a type of sledding), curling, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, slalom, downhill (Alpine) skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined (skiing plus ski jumping), and biathlon (skiing and shooting).
The 2010 Winter Olympics was held in Vancouver, Canada. This was the third Olympics held in Canada. The other Canadian Olympics were the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.
India showcased its scintillating performance in the 2008 Beijing Olympics when 25-year-old Indian shooting ace Abhinav Bindra won the first individual Olympic Gold Medal. The win superceded the silver medal feat of double trap shooter Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore in Athens 2004 last time. Similarly boxer Vijender Singh and wrestler Sushil Kumar brought home bronze medals to give the country a record three medals for the first time ever. The venue for 2012 Olympics is London.