Tuesday, April 14, 2009

DYK - Silver, Gold, or Olive Branch?

We in Illinois are rooting for the Olympics to take place in Chicago next decade more fervantly than anybody else in the country, and that's sort of put me in a state of mind to do some Did-You-Knows on Olympic goodness. Enjoy!

Back when chariot races were part of the Olympics, the charioteer was not the person awarded the traditional olive branch. Instead, the owner and breeder of the horse was given props. It didn't help, of course, that most charioteers were pithy slaves.

There were women drivers back then, though, and the first woman to ever technically win an Olympic event was a young lady named Kyniska, who won first in a chariot race way, way back in the day. But she was a slave, so she couldn't technically go in the books as a winner. The first woman to actually win a gold medal was Charlotte Cooper, who dominated Tennis in London, 1900.

The games have changed a lot over the years, though cheating is nothing new. We've grown up dealing with sterroid scandals, but back in 388 BC a boxer paid all his opponents to lose. Back then you couldn't strip an athlete of his olive branch, so as punishment he had to commission six statues of Zeus to decoarte the entrance to the Olympic Stadium. That couldn't have been cheap.

So there's your daily nugget of Olympic trivia. Let's hope Chi-Town takes 2016!

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