First Modern Olympics – Dale’s Daily Data
After more than 15-hundred years the Olympic Games resumed in Greece on this date in 1896. 60-thousand spectators were on hand as 13 nations sent athletes to compete in Athens in what is now considered the modern Olympics.
Compared to the incredible two-week events we’re familiar with, there were only 280 athletes who competed in 43 events including track-and-field, swimming, gymnastics, cycling, wrestling, weightlifting, fencing, shooting, and tennis. All of the athletes were men. There were even a few tourists who happened to be in Greece at the time and were allowed to sign up to compete. Americans won three-quarters of the events at those 1896 games. The last event, the marathon, was Greece’s chance to shine. Greeks took the top 3 spots along the same 25-mile route that a Greek soldier ran from Marathon to Athens to bring news of a Greek victory over Persia in 490 B.C. The winning time was just under 2 hours 59 minutes.
In 1924, the marathon was standardized at 26.3 miles.