The Olympics is a Sport programme that first aired in 2000.
The Olympics (2000)
The first ever, modern, Olympic Games were held in Athens back in 1896 and was founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin. From then on it has gone from strength to strength becoming ever more popular by the continuing additions of extra and widely different sports.
The first of the modern games were staged in Athens, Greece despite financial difficulties, which nearly lost them the chance of hosting. These games saw over 200 men, representing 14 countries competing in a total of 43 events. The main events that were competed in were: Tennis, Track & Field, Fencing, Weightlifting, Cycling, Wrestling, Shooting, Swimming and Gymnastics. Other sports were cancelled for various reasons. The event winners in these sports received a Silver Medal, a Certificate and a Crown of Olive Leaves, runners-ups received Bronze Medals and a Crown of Laurel, while the third placed athlete went home with nothing. The first Olympic winner was the American triple-jumper, James Brendan Connolly who won with a jump of 13.71 metres. The host countries officials carried out judging at this stage.
Women were first introduced to this international sporting event at the 2nd Olympic Games held in Paris in 1900, however there were only 20 of them in a competitor total of well over 1000. The number of nations had doubled and there were 32 new events leaving the total of events contested to be 75. New sports included were; Cricket, Croquet, Golf and Sailing.
The third Olympic Games were held in 1904 in St Louis where Irishman, Thomas Kiely won the combined event (decathlon) and US gymnast Anton Heida, won 5 gold and 1 silver.
London became the last-minute host of the 1908 Olympics after Rome had to back out due to lack of money following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. During these games Ice-Skating was included and bicycle-polo was the demonstration sport.
The 1912 games, which were held in Stockholm, saw the founder of the games cutting the events down to 14 and introduced the Pentathlon. These games brought about the introduction of the judges being selected from various nations, as opposed to the originally used host nation judges. This games were also the first to use electrical timing equipment. Women made their debut in the swimming events, with the British 4x100 relay team winning gold.
After the end of WW1 the 1920 Olympics were held in Antwerp, Belgium and, due to their involvement in the war, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Turkey were not invited. This particular games saw the introduction of the Olympic flag of 5 interlocking circles, representing the unity and friendship of the human race.
The 1924 Olympics were held in Paris (after Amsterdam lost the privilege) again where all of the previously banned nations, bar Germany, were reinstated. This games saw the first black athlete to win a gold medal was U.S long-jumper, William DeHart. Tennis was taken out of the games and Britain won the gold for the 100m sprint and the 400m gold.
The 1928 games were held in Amsterdam where Germany were finally invited to compete again. This year's games saw the introduction of the Olympic Flame. Women competed for the first time in Track & Field events, but were limited to only 5 events. Norway's Prince Olav V became the first member of royalty to win a medal.
Los Angeles, California was the hosts of the 9th Olympic games in 1932. In the middle of a global depression the IOC provided transportation and food benefits to the athletes to supplement them economically. Olympic legend, Paavo Nurmi of Finland, was banned from ever being able to partake in another Olympiad due to breaching the IOC strict amateur code. These games saw the introduction of the first photo finish camera and automatic timing for the track events. It was also the event that introduced the three-level podium for medal winners.
The 1936 Olympics were held in Berlin which caused boycotting concern with the IOC due to the Nazi rise to power in Germany at the time, however the only country that pulled out were Spain - due to the outbreak of a civil war. These games were opened by Adolf Hitler and saw a number of the teams giving the Nazi salute except, of course, Great Britain and the United States of America. Germany won 33 gold's, America received 24 and Hungary got 10. The star of the games this year was the American, Jesse Owens who won 4 gold's in the 100m, 200m, long jump and 4x100m relay team. Debut sports included Canoeing, Basketball and Outdoor 11-a-side handball.
Due to the outbreak of WWII the next Olympic games were held in 1948 where it was hosted in London. 59 countries competed, except Japan and Germany who weren't invited and Russia as they were not affiliated with the IOC. Due to economic problems the athletes were housed in military barracks and colleges around the city. The stars of the games included Dutch athlete, Fanny Blankers-Koen (The Flying-Housewife) who won 4 gold's and Finnish gymnast, Veikko Huhtanen won 3 gold's, 1 silver and a bronze. The US topped the medal table with Sweden and France coming in beneath them.
The 1952 Olympics were held in Helsinki where Russia competed for the first time since 1912. Unfortunately these games were blighted with the communist-capitalist battle, which was obviously taking place in each event. However the hero of the Track and Field event was Czechoslovakian runner Emil Zatopek winning gold's in 5,000m, 10,000m and the Marathon. Soviet gymnast Maria Gorokhovskaya dominated the arena by winning 2 gold's & 5 silver's, which was known to be the most medals won by a female in any sports event in the history of the games.
The 1956 games were held in Melbourne, Australia where there were a lot of problems with athletes suffering with acclimatisation, due to lack of money. The horses needed for the equestrian event were not allowed into the country, due to quarantine laws, and was then held in Stockholm. Travel costs depleted the amount of athletes present. China pulled out due to Taiwan entering. The Suez crisis stole the games of Egypt and Lebanon. Finally the Soviet invasion of Hungary saw Liechtenstein, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland withdrawing in protest. Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina won 4 gold's and British athlete, Betty Cuthbert won 3 gold's in Track and Field while Vladimir Kuts, of the Soviet Union, took titles in 5000m and 10,000m.
The Rome games were the 14th Olympiad, held in 1960. These were the first games to have worldwide television coverage. The Pope blessed all teams, except the Soviet Union, and the Soviets topped the medal table with an amazing 42 gold's in total. U.S sprinter Wilma Rudolph won 3 gold medals, despite suffering from polio. Ethiopian Abebe Bikila won the men's marathon - barefooted. An Olympic record was broken in every swimming event.
The 1964 Olympics were hosted by Tokyo and Asia who spent a huge $3 billion dollars on the facilities. South Africa weren't invited, Indonesia and N. Korea were banned but 14 new nations made their debut leaving a total of 93 countries competing. Volleyball and Judo made their debuts. Abebe Bikila did it again - with shoes and just 6 weeks after having his appendix removed. Mary Rand won the first British women's gold medal in the athletics. The hero of the games however was American swimmer, Don Schollander who won 4 gold's while Larissa Latynina (Soviet gymnast) said farewell to the games by winning 2 gold's, 6 medals in total. This meant that she had stood on the podium on no fewer than 18 times in total.
Mexico City was the host of the 1968 games. South Africa again did not show due to other African nations threatening to withdraw if they were included. 34 World medals were set, along with 38 Olympic records, the most outstanding being set by American long jumper, Bob Beamon who jumped 8.90m (an increase of 55cm). American high jumper, Dick Fosbury revolutionised the sport by winning gold by 'flopping' over the bar - a technique now used by all athletes in this event.
Germany hosted the controversial 1972 games in Munich. Here a terrorist attack on the Israeli team left 11 athletes, 5 terrorists and a policeman dead, this caused the games to be suspended for a memorial service the following day. Rhodesia was banned due to its apartheid politics. Archery returned to the line-up of events and indoor handball made its debut. American swimmer, Mark Spitz was the star of the games by winning 4 World record setting gold's individually and 3 relay gold's. Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut won 3 gold's and a silver, and became a massive hit overnight.
The Montreal Games, held in 1976, saw a number of nations absent following the terrorist disaster of the previous games. 24 of the 116 registered teams boycotted the games. Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci (14-years-old) scored a maximum of 7 perfect 10.00 marks and won 3 gold's, 1 silver and a bronze. British David Wilkie won the 200m breaststroke and set a new World record.
The 1980 Moscow games were blighted by being boycotted by Japan, West Germany and the U.S due to the political standing of the country. However the games saw 36 world records, 39 European records and 73 Olympic bests. Britain did well with Alan Wells winning the men's 100m, Sebastian Coe winning the 1500m, while Steve Ovett won the 800m, and finally Duncan Goodhew won the 100m breaststroke.
The Los Angeles games of 1984 were boycotted by Moscow, due to the events of the previous games. American Carl Lewis won gold's in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and the long jump - this matched what Jesse Owens achieved 48 years previously. Britain's Sebastian Coe won (and defended) his 1500m title while Daley Thompson won the decathlon title, while Romanian gymnast, Ecaterina Szabo won 4 gold's and 1 silver. Women's synchronized Swimming made its debut and professional players were allowed to compete in the football competition.
The 1988 Seoul Olympics finally saw politics taking a back seat while all nations, bar Cuba and Ethiopia, took part and the controversy was replaced with drugs scandals especially in the 100m men's. Canadian Ben Johnson ran a new world best of 9.79 seconds, but three days later he was stripped of the title after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, leaving Carl Lewis to take the gold. American athlete, Florence Griffith-Joyner won 3 gold's and a silver and set a World record for the 200m. Tennis was re-introduced to the games after 64 years where Steffi Graf won the women's title and Miloslav Mecir the men's. East German Kristin Otto won 6 gold's while U.S Matt Biondi won 5, a silver and a bronze.
The 22nd Olympics were held in Barcelona in 1992 and was reputed to be the best games ever. Not one country boycotted the event, South Africa were invited back and Germany competed as one nation and Afghanistan joined the opening ceremony despite having no competing athletes! An estimated 2 billion people watched via television. 64 nations won medals. America's "Dream Team" made an easy victory in Basketball. China and Cuba refused to take part in drug testing. The Unified team's gymnast, Vitali Sherbo won 6 gold's and Britain's Linford Christie and Sally Gunnell both won gold's in their events; 100m and 400m.
Again the Olympics were blighted by terrorists at the start of the 1996 Atlanta games when a bomb went off in Centennial park, leaving 2 dead and over 100 injured. Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic flame. America's Michael Johnson won gold's in the 200m and 400m double which included a world record 400m time of 19.32 seconds. Carl Lewis won the long jump making his total gold Olympic medals standing at 9 (spread over four Olympics). Britain's Steve Redgrave won his 4th gold and was hailed Britain's greatest Olympian. Unfortunately though, Linford Christie was disqualified after making two false starts at the 100m and Canadian Donovan Bailey took the gold and set a new World record of 9.84 seconds in the event.
Sydney, Australia was the host of the first Olympic games to be held in the 21st Century in the year 2000. British success soared with a tally of 6 gold's (Jason Queally - 1km Time Trial Cycling, Richard Faulds - Double Trap Shooting, Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent, James Cracknell & Tim Foster - Coxless Fours, Men's Eight Rowing Team, Denise Lewis - Heptathlon and Jonathon Edwards - Triple Jump) 8 silver (Ian Peel - Trap Shooting, Equestrian 3-day Event Team, Cycling Team Sprint, Kate Howey - Judo, Paul Ratcliffe - Kayak singles slalom, Steve Bacley - Javelin, Quadruple Sculls Rowing Team, Sailing 49er Class) and 5 bronze (Yvonne McGregor - 3000m Cycling Indiv. Pursuit, Cycling Team Pursuit, Badminton Mixed Doubles, Katharine Merry - Women's 400m and Kelly Holmes - Women's 800m) while Steve Redgrave has cemented his place in British and Olympic history after winning his 5th gold medal when he got the gold in the coxless fours.
Production Year: 2000
Database last updated: 20 November - 18:15