16 May 2012
From the opening of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, 1896, through the leisurely days of fin-de-siecle Europe and the Pa
From the opening of the first modern Olympic Games in Athens, 1896, through the leisurely days of fin-de-siecle Europe and the Parisien games, to suffering wartime cancellation, yet surviving 1930s economic woes and the politics of the Cold War, the history of the Olympic Games reflects the truly tumultuous times of the past century or so that our ancestors have lived through.
To get a wonderful insight to these events, check out The National Archives' 'Olympic Record' at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/olympics. There’s the illustrated timeline, with historical context, and facsimiles of original records from each of the 29 games held so far.
Suitable for adults and children, the site is packed with fascinating snippets too. Did you know, for instance, that it was 1900 before the first women were allowed to compete at the games (the 1896 being denied entry to them), and 1904 before anyone was awarded gold, silver and bronze medals? The 1912 Stockholm games were the first truly global ones, with all five continents taking part, while 1920 saw the introduction of the now-famous five Olympic ring symbol and the 1948 London games were the first to be televised. As well as helping you to become a mine of Olympic trivia, the site is also testament to a century of human blood, sweat, tears and sporting achievement!
And if all those tales of sporting prowess have inspired you to flex your muscles, there are details of Olympic and Paralympic related events happening this summer.