Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Olympics

The games are coming to a close and we'll have to wait another four years to watch the worlds best athletes compete against one another for gold, which saddens me after becoming accustomed to hearing the Olympic anthem blare throughout the house everyday for the last two weeks.  Even though the Olympics will return in two years when the best winter athletes battle against one another, its the summer Olympics that catches my attention more so than any other event.  Have you ever wondered where the Olympics originated from?  Most people know the Olympics originates from Greece but most don't know that it was a pagan festival with only one sport, a 192 meter footrace that was first documented in 776 B.C.  The footrace was won by a cook named Coroebus, the very first Olympian.  Roughly three hundred years later the christian emperor Theodosius I banned all pagan festivals, including the Olympics.

Almost 1,500 years later a man by the name of Baron Pierre de Coubertine, who became inspired by the original Olympic stadium after visiting Greece, proposed an idea to Union des Sports Athlétiques in Paris to bring back the Olympics.  Two years later, the barons proposal was approved and soon he founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC).  In 1896 the first modern Olympics took place in Athens, Greece.  At the opening ceremonies King Georgios I and a crowd of 60,000 spectators welcomed 280 participants from 13 nations to compete in 43 events.

The official symbol of the games are five interlocking rings, symbolizing the five regions who compete in the games.  The Olympic flag flew for the first time at the Antwerp games in 1920.
In 1924 the Winter Olympics debut with events such as figure skating, bobsledding, and the biathlon.  Eighty years later at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, 11,000 athletes from 201 nations came to compete, a far cry from the first Olympics in 1896. 

Now what most don't know is that there is a theme song for the Olympics written by Greek composer Spyridon Samaras called The Olympic Hymm.  The song was written for the first Olympic games and has been a part of every opening ceremony since 1960.  Most people don't really know the song nor would they even know its origins if they heard the music, but in 1958 a composer by the name of Léo Arnaud composed Bugler's Dream, but wasn't meant to be an Olympic theme.  It was just a song he had on an album called Charge!, an album that never went anywhere, not until ABC Sports decided to use the theme during its telecast in 1968.  Bugler's Dream soon became the unofficial theme to the televised Olympic games.  In 1984 though, that melody would be transformed forever when the Los Angeles Organizing Committee commissioned John Williams to compose a theme for the opening ceremony.  The theme conducted by Williams called Olympic Fanfare and Theme was soon adopted in with the Bugler's Dream and is now played during the Olympic telecast today.

Four years will go by quick and we'll be watching the 31st annual Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro before you know it.  We will welcome back familiar athletes and learn the names of the new ones that are competing for our country.  We'll take two weeks out of our lives and stop to see the records they might break and watch in astonishment at things we never thought the human body is capable of doing.  I look forward to those two weeks, not because I look on in awe at the accomplishments of what hard work will grant you, I look forward to it because it reminds me that dreams do come true.

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