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Monday, August 6, 2012

5 Weird Facts About the Olympic Games

It's expected that the 2012 Summer Olympics in London will be a great success. With detailed planning, tight security and the latest electronics communications systems, everything is expected to go as planned. However, in some past Olympics, moments happened that were not quite as logical.

Extended Summer Olympics
In 1908, the Olympic games in London went on for more than six months, extending from April through October. The games were originally planned to be held in Rome, but two years before the start, Mount Vesuvius erupted and caused major damage in Naples. The Italian government chose to cancel their plans, and the games were moved to be a summer-long season in London.

The Youngest Olympian
The youngest athlete in Olympics history was Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras. In 1896, he competed in his hometown of Athens in the first modern games. He was 10 years old, and won the bronze medal. He later served as an officer in the Greek Navy and retired as an admiral. The current lowest age limit permitted for Olympic competitors is 16.

Nude Olympians
Greek writings, sculpture and wall paintings from at least as far back as the 7th Century B.C., show that early Olympians competed in the nude. In fact, the word gymnasium comes from the Greek word, gymnos, which means naked. Actually, the only item resembling clothing the athletes wore were cloth or leather thongs, called himantes, boxers wrapped around their hands and arms.
A hermaic sculpture of an old man, thought to be the master of a gymnasium.
He held a long stick in his right hand. Ai Khanoum, Afghanistan, 2nd century BC.

Olympic Flame Out for 15 Centuries
Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th Century A.D. Considering the Olympic Games a shameful pagan ritual, Emperor Theodosius banned them. They were not held again for 15 centuries, until the first modern games were held in Athens, Greece, in 1896.
Skeet Shooting With Live Pigeons
As it has been for a century, skeet shooting will be an event in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The targets are clay pigeons, which explode into many bits when hit. However, at the same competition in the 1900 Olympics in Paris, the targets were real pigeons. The record shows that Belgian sharpshooter Leon de Lunden won the gold medal with a perfect score of 300 birds.

The Olympic Games have always held worldwide interest, especially since the introduction of live television coverage in the 1950s. It's expected that this year's 2012 London Games will be just as popular. As in previous Olympics dating back more than 20 centuries, they could also include some weird and interesting happenings.

Article from Olympic and sports fan Freddy Sherman grew up in Philadelphia and went to school with two Olympic medal winners, Kim Gallagher and David Wharton. Watching their skill and determination inspired him. You can follow Freddy on Twitter: @thefredsherman.

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