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First Modern Olympics – Dale’s Daily Data

Opening ceremonies at first modern-day Olympic Games in Athens, Greece - 1896 (Getty Images)

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.

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