The 27th edition of the summer Olympic Games begin on Friday in London. While thousands of athletes are slowly converging to the English capital, the organisers are putting the final touches before the start of the globally-awaited event. Meanwhile, here are a few interesting facts to know before the beginning of the tournament.
From Athens to London
The Modern Olympic Games first came to be in 1896 in Athens. Back in the days, only 14 nations were represented in Greece, with 9 sports available split in to 43 events. Only 241 athletes took part in these Olympics and all of them were men, as women weren’t allowed to compete until the following Games in 1900 in Paris. In comparison, over 10,000 athletes (about half of which are women) will take part in the London Games in the coming weeks, representing 204 nations, with 26 sports split up into 302 events. Yes indeed, times have change !
The Famous Five
Since Athens in 1896, only five countries have taken part in every single Olympic Games : Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Switzerland, Greece and Australia. Amongst them, Great Britain remains the only nation to have won at least one gold medal in every Olympic Games.
USA, and the rest of the world
In the medals’ table, the United States are without too much surprise top of the list : with 2298 medals, 930 of which are gold, the Americans have won almost three times as many medals as their German counterparts, who stand currently third in the standings (N.B : second in this table, the Soviet Union has only taken part in 10 Olympic Games). Great Britain is fourth with 715 medals won, while France are in fifth (636).
A very special opening ceremony
The opening ceremony before the Olympic Games is always an eagerly-awaited event before the start of the tournament. This year, the organizers have set high standards and have called upon British film-maker Danny Boyle, who directed «Trainspotting» and «Slumdog Millionnaire» amongst other films, to orchestrate the evening festivities. Spoiler alert, several fictional characters should play a part in the show, and there have been increasing rumors about an epic fight between Mary Poppins and Voldemort… While waiting for the ceremony, check out this year’s Olympic mascots !
Age is not an issue
Age has never prevented anyone from taking part in the Olympic Games, as equestrian rider Hiroshi Hoketsu will confirm. The Japanese, aged 71 (not a typo !), will represent his country in the dressage competition. Already a member of the Japanese team at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in… 1964 (!), Hoketsu will be the oldest athlete competing in London. However, he’ll have to wait until 2016 in Rio to become the oldest Olympic competitor in history, as the current record belongs to Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who was 72 years old during the Antwerp Games in 1920. At the other end of the spectrum, Togo’s Adzo Kpossi will be the youngest athlete taking part in the London Games. The 13 year-old swimmer will compete in the 50m freestyle.
Phelps eyeing all-time record
Currently holding 14 gold medals and 2 bronze medals, which he claimed at the Athens and Beijing Games in 2004 and 2008, Michael Phelps is already the world record holder for Olympic titles. But the American swimmer could become once and for all the greatest Olympic athlete in history in London : if he claims at least three medals, he will become the most decorated sportsman in history ! The current record is held by soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina, who won 18 medals in her career (9 gold, 5 silver, 4 bronze).