Out There: Get Your Olympics On!

Here are some little known facts about the world’s greatest sporting event.

After much excitement, the London 2012 Olympics are finally here! For the next few weeks, the world’s finest athletes will be gathering to participate in one of the greatest sporting events known to man. The rest of us, of course, will be glued to the TV, watching the events with rapt attention. Olympic Fever is a real condition, and the only cure is more Bob Costas.

Want to wow your colleagues at the water cooler or impress that cute girl sitting at the end of the bar? Whip out these little-known facts about the Olympics, and you’ll amaze and astonish everyone:

The first recorded Olympic Games, held in 776 BCE, had only one event, a 600-foot dash known as “the stade.” You can still catch re-runs of this event at 3 AM on ESPN Classic.

The Greek word “gymnos,” meaning nude, is the root of the word “gymnasium,” which literally means “exercise in the nude.” YES — athletes in the ancient Olympic Games would run around in their birthday suits! Or, as it’s known in my house, “Tuesday.”

Club Swinging was an official Olympic event in 1904 and 1932. Motorboating was a hot event in 1908. I have been asked to refrain from commenting further on the names of these events. This is, after all, a family publication.

Women were not allowed to compete in the Olympics until 1900. Though historians will say it was out of concern for the health and safety of females, it’s really because the men were afraid of getting chicked.

The last Olympic gold medals made entirely out of gold were awarded in 1912. Today, the medal contains only 6 grams of gold. To compensate for this difference, certain shoe companies have begun lining the track shorts of Olympians with solid-gold underwear.

The first marathon occurred when Pheidippides, a Greek solder, ran from Marathon to Athens (about 25 miles) to inform soldiers of a Greek victory over the Persians. After announcing the good news, Pheidippides fell to the ground and died. If you look really closely at your TV screens during the Olympic coverage of the marathon, you can see the athletes cursing Pheidippides from Mile 25 to the finish line.

Speaking of the marathon, American competitor Shalane Flanagan recently said in an interview, “I will go through a lot of pain to beat someone. If there’s pride an ego on the line, if I’m desperate, then I’m willing to go to a place where it hurts a lot more.” I think a lot of us can relate, as we’ve felt the same about races, intense training sessions, or getting the last Oreo in the bag.

An Olympic athlete spends an average of 8 hours a day, seven days a week training in preparation for the Games, with an average $19,000 salary. As a result of sharing this factoid, my handlers at Competitor will no longer allow me to claim I am overworked and underpaid.

See? Don’t you feel smarter already? It’s time to get our Olympics on!

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About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke

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