1896 Olympics

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff


The ruins of ancient Olympia were excavated by the German archaeologist Ernst Curtius from 1875-81.

Among the remains uncovered was the ancient stadium where the original Olympic Games were celebrated from 776 B.C. to 393 A.D., when Roman emperor Theodosius I banned all pagan festivals.

Athletics played an important role in the religious festivals of the ancient Greeks, who believed competitive sports pleased the spirits of the dead. The festivals honoring gods like Zeus were undertaken by many Greek tribes and cities and usually held every four years.

During the first 13 Olympiads (an Olympiad is an interval of four years between celebrations of the Olympic Games), the only contested event was a foot race of 200 yards. Longer races were gradually introduced and by 708 B.C., field events like the discus, javelin throw and the long jump were part of the program. Wrestling and boxing followed and in 640 B.C., four-horse chariot races became a fixture at the Games.

During the so-called Golden Age of Greece, which most historians maintain lasted from 477 to 431 B.C., Olympia was considered holy ground. Victorious athletes gave public thanks to the gods and were revered as heroes. Three-time winners had statues erected in their likeness and received various gifts and honors, including exemption from taxation.

Eventually, however, winning and the rewards that went with victory corrupted the original purpose of the Ancient Games. Idealistic amateurs gave way to skilled foreign athletes who were granted the citizenship needed to compete and were paid handsomely by rich Greek gamblers.

There is evidence to suggest that the Games continued until the temples of Olympia were physically demolished in 426 A.D. by a Roman army sent by Theodosius II. Over the next 15 centuries, earthquakes and floods buried the site, until its discovery in 1875.

On June 23, 1894, French educator Baron Pierre de Coubertin, speaking at the Sorbonne in Paris to a gathering of international sports leaders from nine nations— including the United States and Russia— proposed that the ancient Games be revived on an international scale. The idea was enthusiastically received and the Modern Olympics, as we know them, were born.

The first Olympiad was celebrated two years later in Athens, where an estimated 245 athletes (all men) from 14 nations competed in the ancient Panathenaic stadium before large and ardent crowds.

Americans won nine of the 12 track and field events, but Greece won the most medals with 47. The highlight was the victory by native peasant Spiridon Louis in the first marathon race, which was run over the same course covered by the Greek hero Pheidippides after the battle of Marathon in 490 B.C.

Top 10 Standings

National medal standings are not recognized by the IOC. The unofficial point totals are based on 3 points for a gold medal, 2 for a silver and 1 for a bronze.

  Gold Silver Bronze Total Pts
1 Greece 10 19 18 47 86
2 USA 11 6 2 19 47
3 Germany 7 5 3 15 34
4 France 5 4 2 11 25
5 Great Britain 3 3 1 7 16
6 Denmark 1 2 4 7 11
 Hungary 2 1 3 6 11
8 Austria 2 0 3 5 9
9 Switzerland 1 2 0 3 7
10 Australia 2 0 0 2 6

Leading Medal Winners

Number of individual medals won on the left; gold, silver and bronze breakdown to the right.

No  Sport G-S-B
6 Hermann Weingärtner, GER Gymnastics 3-2-1
4 Karl Schuman, GER Gymnastics
& Wrestling
4 Alfred Flatow, GER Gymnastics 3-1-0
4 Bob Garrett, USA Track/Field 2-1-1
4 Viggo Jensen, DEN Shooting
& Weightlifting
3 Paul Masson, FRA Cycling 3-0-0
3 Teddy Flack, AUS Track/Field & Tennis 2-0-1
3 Jules Zutter, SWI Gymnastics 1-2-0
3 James Connolly, USA Track/Field 1-1-1
3 Leon Flameng, FRA Cycling 1-1-1
3 Adolf Schmal, AUT Cycling 1-0-2
3 Efstathios Choraphas, GRE Swimming 0-1-2
3 Holger Nielsen, DEN Shooting 0-1-2

Track & Field

Event  Time
 100m Tom Burke, USA 12.0
 Fritz Hofmann, GER12.2
 Alajos Szokolyi, HUN12.6
 400m Tom Burke, USA 54.2
 Herbert Jamison, USA55.2
 Fritz Hofmann, GER55.6
 800m Teddy Flack, AUS 2:11.0
 Nandor Dani, HUN2:11.8
 Dimitrios Golemis, GRE2:28.0
1500m Teddy Flack, AUS 4:33.2
 Arthur Blake, USA4:34.0
 Albin Lermusiaux, FRA4:36.0
Marathon Spiridon Louis, GRE 2:58:50
 Charilaos Vasilakos, GRE3:06:03
 Gyula Kellner, HUN3:09:35
110m H Tom Curtis, USA 17.6
 Grantley Goulding, GBR18.0
Event  Mark
High Jump Ellery Clark, USA 5-111/4
 James B. Connolly, USA5-5
 Robert Garrett, USA5-5
Pole Vault William Hoyt, USA 10-10
 Albert Tyler, USA10-6
 Evangelos Damaskos, GRE8-61/4
Long Jump Ellery Clark, USA 20-10
 Robert Garrett, USA20-31/4
 James B. Connolly, USA20-01/2
Triple Jump James Connolly, USA 44-113/4
 Alexandre Tuffere, FRA41-8
 Ioannis Persakis, GRE41-03/4
Shot Put Bob Garrett, USA 36- 93/4
 Militadis Gouskos, GRE36-9
 Georgios Papasideris, GRE34-0
Discus Bob Garrett, USA 95- 71/2
 Panagiotis Paraskevopoulos, GRE95-0
 Sotirios Versis, GRE91-13/4


Event  Time
 100m Free Alfréd Hajós, HUN 1:22.2
 Efstathios Chorophas, GRE1:23.0
 Otto Herschmann, AUT 
 500m Free Paul Neumann, AUT 8:12.6
 Antonios Pepanos, GRE 
 Efstathios Chorophas, GRE 
1200m Free Alfréd Hajós, HUN 18:22.2
 Jean Andreou, GRE21:03.4
 Efstathios Chorophas, GRE 
Other  Time
 100m Free
Ioannis Malokinis, GRE 2:20.4
 S. Chasapis, GRE 
 Dimitrios Drivas, GRE 

Team Sports



Event Time
SprintPaul Masson, FRA24.0
 Stamatios Nikolopoulos, GRE25.4
 Adolf Schmal, AUT26.6
2000 mPaul Masson, FRA4:56.0
 Stamatios Nikolopoulos, GRE5:00.2
 Léon Flameng, FRA 
10,000 mPaul Masson, FRA17:54.2
 Léon Flameng, FRA17:54.2
 Adolf Schmal, AUT 
100 kmLéon Flameng, FRA3:08:19.2
 G. Kolettis, GRE 
12 Hours TrackAdolf Schmal, AUT314.997
 F. Keeping, GBR314.664
 Georgios Paraskevopoulos, GRE313.330
Marathon (87 km)Aristidis Konstantinidis, GRE3:22:31
 August Goedrich, GER3:42:18
 F. Battel, GBR 


Event Other
Individual FoilEmile Gravelotte, FRA4
 Henri Callot, FRA3
 Perikles Pierrakos-Mavromichalis, GRE2
Foil for Fencing MastersLeon Pyrgos, GRE1
 M. Perronet, FRA0
Individual SabreJean Georgiadis, GRE4
 Telemachos Karakalos, GRE3
 Holger Nielsen, DEN2


Parallel Bars — IndividualAlfred Flatow, GER
 Jules Zutter, SWI
 Hermann Weingärtner, GER
Parallel Bars — TeamGermany
Horse VaultCarl Schuhmann, GER
 Jules Zutter, SWI
Horizontal Bar — IndividualHermann Weingärtner, GER
 Alfred Flatow, GER
 Pet Messas, GRE
Horizontal Bar — TeamGermany
RingsIoannis Mitropoulos, GRE
 Hermann Weingärtner, GER
 Petros Persakis, GRE
Pommel HorseJules Zutter, SWI
 Hermann Weingärtner, GER
 Gyula Kakas, HUN
Rope ClimbingNicolaos Andriakopoulos, GRE
 Thomas Xenakis, GRE
 Fritz Hofmann, GER


Event Other
Free Rifle (200 m)Pantelis Karasevdas, GRE2320
 P. Pavlidis, GRE1978
 Nicolaos Trikupis, GRE1718
Free Rifle (300 m)Georgios Orphanidis, GRE1583
 Jean Phrangoudis, GRE1312
 Viggo Jensen, DEN1305
Rapid-Fire Pistol (25 m)Jean Phrangoudis, GRE344
 Georgios Orphanidis, GRE249
 Holger Nielsen, DEN 
Military Revolver (25 m)John Paine, USA442
 Sumner Paine, USA380
 N. Morakis, GRE205
Free Pistol (50 m)Sumner Paine, USA442
 Viggo Jensen, DEN285
 Holger Nielsen, DEN 


SinglesJohn Pius Boland, GBR
 Dennis Kasdaglis, GRE
DoublesJohn Pius Boland, GBR / Fritz Traun, GER
 Dennis Kasdaglis, GRE / Demetrios Petrokokkinos, GRE

Weight Lifting

Event Weight
One-arm LiftsLaunceston Elliott, GBR1561/4
 Viggo Jensen, DEN1253/4
 Alexandros Nikolopulos, GRE1253/4
Two-arm LiftsViggo Jensen, DEN2451/4
 Launceston Elliott, GBR2451/4
 Sotirios Versis, GRE220


Carl Schuhmann, GER
Georgios Tsitas, GRE
Stephanos Christopoulos, GRE
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