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 Weingrtner, 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 Alfrd Hajs, 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 Alfrd Hajs, 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



SprintPaul Masson, FRA24.0
Stamatios Nikolopoulos, GRE25.4
Adolf Schmal, AUT26.6
2000 mPaul Masson, FRA4:56.0
Stamatios Nikolopoulos, GRE5:00.2
Lon Flameng, FRA
10,000 mPaul Masson, FRA17:54.2
Lon Flameng, FRA17:54.2
Adolf Schmal, AUT
100 kmLon 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


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


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

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