Founder of the Modern Olympics

 

Pierre de Coubertin

Interest in the ancient Olympics prompted the beginnings of the modern games. In the mid 18th century, several British regions held Olympics style festivals. But, unlike the modern Olympics, competitors were mostly British citizens. One of the remnants of these early games is the Wenlock Olympian Society Annual Games, a much-celebrated event in England.

The French and the Greeks held athletic competitions numerous times in imitation of the ancient Olympics. These too were primarily restricted to competitors from their own countries, as travel from foreign countries would have proven very challenging and time-consuming.

In the middle of the 19th century, excavations of Olympia added fuel to the fire in terms of interest in restarting true Olympics again. One of the champions of restoring the ceremonies was Pierre de Coubertin. He felt the French badly needed athletic training, and that lack thereof was the principal reason for France’s defeat in Franco-Prussian War.

Pierre de Coubertin found an audience for his ideas at an international congress held at the Sorbonne in 1894. In response, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was founded and determined the dates of the first modern Olympics, two years later in 1896.

To honor the original Olympics, the first modern games were held in Greece. Fewer than 300 athletes participated. The 1900 Olympics took place in Paris, and was groundbreaking in that it allowed women to compete for the first time. Since then, the modern Olympics have been divided into Winter and Summer games, and continue to incorporate more sporting events.

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Sent in by Eric Sullivan. Wales Great Britain

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