Names of the Week
Fact of the Week

Olympic Names From Olympia To Sochi

The first Olympic Games were held in ancient times in honor of the Greek god Zeus. They were held in Olympia, Greece, whose giant statue of Zeus was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

According to historical records, the games began in 776 BCE and were held every 4 years (an olympiad) until 394 CE, when emperor Theodosius I put an end to them as part of a campaign to impose Christianity as the state religion.

The Olympic Games were revived in modern times, much to the efforts of Pierre de Coubertin, a French aristocrat and educator who founded the International Olympic Committee.

The first games of modern times goverened by the IOC, were held in Greece in April 1896 and were officially opened by King George I of Greece. German wrestler and gymnast Carl Schuhmann, the most successful athlete of those games, won four of the events.

The games themselves have changed dramatically over time, with the Winter Olympics added in the early 20th century as well as the addition of many new sports to both the summer and winter games.

In 1900, when the games were opened to women, Charlotte Cooper of the U.K. became the first female Olympic champion.

Along the way, the games have been touched by politics. But for two world wars and two boycotts, the games have continued on. Whether it be amid wars, invasions or claims of host country human rights violations, including Nazi Germany, the games have gone on. Even after the murder of 11 young athletes and coaches at the 1972 Munich Games, the games carried on with disturbing indifference.

We would like to honor the athletic and political heros of Olympics both past and present. We hope you will find just the name you are looking for amongst these honorees.

First, we respectfully honor the 11 murdered members of the Israeli team to the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.

Mark Slavin, 18, Wrestler; Eliezer Halfin, 24, Wrestler; David Mark Berger, 28, Weightlifter; Ze'ev Friedman, 28, Weightlifter; Yossef Romano, 31, Weightlifter; Andre Spitzer, 27, Fencing coach; Moshe Weinberg, 33, Wrestling coach; Amitzur Shapira, 40, Track coach; Yossef Gutfreund, 40, Wrestling referee; Yakov Springer, 51, Weightlifting judge; Kehat Shorr, 53, Shooting coach.

Staying on the political theme, we would also like to honor the triumph of the African American and Jewish medalists of the 1936 Berlin summer Games, whose successes made a fool out of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and his Aryan supremecy beliefs.

David Albritton (high jump, silver); Cornelius Johnson (high jump, gold); James LuValle (400-meter run, bronze); Ralph Metcalfe (4x100-meter relay, gold, 100-meter dash, silver); Jesse Owens (100-meter dash, gold, 200-meter dash, gold, broad jump, gold, 4x100-meter relay, gold); Frederick Pollard, Jr. (100-meter hurdles, bronze); Matthew Robinson (200-meter dash, silver); Archie Williams (400-meter run, gold); Jack Wilson (Bantam weight bolxing, silver); John Woodruff (800-meter run, gold).

Although Jewish athletes were encouraged not to participate, and others chose not to realizing the gravity of what was taking place in Germany, the following athletes did choose to particiate and medalled.

Samuel Balter (U.S., Basketball, gold); Gyorgy Brody (Hungary, Water Polo, gold); Miklos Sarkany (Hungary, Water Polo, gold); Karoly Karpati (Hungary, Freestyle Wrestling, gold); Endre Kabos (Hungary, Indiv. Saber, gold, Team Saver, gold); Irving Maretzky (Canada, Basketball, silver); Gerard Blitz (Belgium, Water Polo, bronze); Ibolya K. Csak (Hungary, High Jump, gold); Robert Fein (Austria, Weightlifting, gold); Helene Mayer (Germany, Indiv. Foil, silver); Ellen Preis (Austria, Indiv. Foil, bronze); Ilona Schacherer-Elek (Hungary, Indiv Foil, gold), Jadwiga Wajs (Poland, Discus Throw, silver).

Now let's put politics behind us and move to a lighter note by saluting some of the other greats in Olympic history.

In 1912, the amazing athlete Native American Jim Thorpe won the gold for the pentathlon and the decathlon.

Norwegian figure skater Sonja Henie won the gold at the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Games. Her influence on the sport is still apparent today. She is credited with being the first skater to choreograph her programs to music.

One of the greatest female track and field stars of all time, Holland native Fanny Blankers Koen won four Olympic gold medals at the 1948 London Games.

Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, medalled in all but one of the events in which competed over the course of 3 Olympic Games from 1956 to 1964.

At the Munich Games in 1972, American swimmer Mark Spitz brought home a record setting 7 gold medals.

At the 1976 Montreal Games, Romanian gymnast Nadia Elena Comaneci, showed the IOC that they'd better add room for another digit on the scoreboard. Her astonishing achievement of seven perfect scores of 10.00 had to be displayed as 1.00 on the scoreboards of the time.

In 1996, sprinter Cathy Freeman, the first Aboriginal Australian to represent her country, won the 400-meter silver medal. She medalled again, this time the gold, in 2000.

Norwegian skier Bjorn Daehlie, made his mark by winning eight gold medals and four silver over the course of three olympic Games 1992, 1994 and 1998.

In 1999, Sports Illustrated named the "Miracle on Ice", the Top Sports Moment of the 20th Century. That moment, at the 1980 Lake Placid Games, when a young amatuer U.S. ice hockey team bested the heavily favored Soviet team proved that anything is possible.

Jim Craig, Ken Morrow, Mike Ramsey, Mark Johnson, Rob McClanahan, Dave Silk, Bill Baker, Neal Broten, Dave Christian, Steve Christoff, Mike Eruzione, John Harrington, Steve Janaszak, Jack O'Callahan, Mark Pavelich, Buzz Schneider, Eric Strobel, Bob Suter, Phil Verchota and Mark Wells.

In the 2004 Athens Games, American swimmer Michael Phelps returned home with six golds and two bronzes. He then surpassed himself at the 2008 Beijing Games, when he brought home eight gold medals, breaking the record of 7 medals won by Mark Spitz at the 1972 games.

Which leads us to the 2014 Games in Sochi, where we wish all of the participants much luck.