Every four years is welcomed in our house. Ah…the Summer Olympics.
Nothing brings a tear to my eye faster than hearing our National Anthem played for a star athlete who has worked almost their entire life to compete for their country.
The Olympics started in 776 B.C. and had a few contests that are still around today. The javelin, discus, wrestling and long jump were all part of the first games held on the ancient plains of Olympia. The games were played for 12 centuries until Emperor Theodosius banned the games fearing they were “pagan cults”.
Fast forward to 1896. The first modern Olympic games held in Athens.
The United States had fourteen athletes. Eleven of these became champions! Even back then, the US was a force to be reckoned with. Most of these athletes came from Boston and another group from Princeton. We haven’t heard much about these games. No hype and even after, this group was content to just getting on with life. We do know that the winners didn’t get gold medals. They were silver, hung on a ribbon. They came in a handsome case lined with blue velvet. They received an oversized diploma and an olive branch from the sacred grove of Olympia.
One of the winners was Robert Garrett. He competed in the discus. He had only seen the discus being held by warriors in sculptures at museums. So to practice, he had a discus made. Made of stone! It was nearly 25 lbs and he could hardly pick it up. But he practiced nonetheless. To his surprise when he showed up in Athens, the regulation size of the discus was only 4.5 lbs. He adjusted himself for the weight difference and won on his 6th and final throw.
The Olympics are constantly evolving. Some of the sports that have been discontinued are the rope climb, 100m freestyle for sailors, one-handed weightlifting, live pigeon shooting, dueling pistol and tug of war. New sports for 2020 are baseball, karate, skateboard, sports climbing and surfing.
The United States has won a total of 2,410 medals (The count was 2,405 when I started this article earlier today) at the Summer Olympics and 281 at the Winter Olympics. We are a strong and powerful nation. A select few get chosen by their athletic ability to represent our nation. The rest of us show the world our strength though our actions and our love of country.
So, grab a bowl of popcorn and cheer for the USA! Never, ever forget that we have been blessed to live in the greatest country in the world.