Memorable moments: The first Games

It all started with Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin - the French academic who became the driving force and the first secretary general of the International Olympic Committee.


Yet the Baron did not have everything his own way. His target was to launch the modern Games in 1900 in Paris. Other IOC members were less patient and the president, Demetrius Vikelas, was Greek, so the Games opened in Athens in 1896.

Cost was a concern. Such were the economic and political problems of the host nation that Budapest was lined up as a possible substitute, but the capital of Hungary was not needed - and hasn't been since.

The Julian calendar was also a concern for some. It was overlooked by the United States team, who, observing the more modern Gregorian calendar, arrived in Athens the day before the action started and missed out on their planned preparation time of 12 days.

America's James Connolly, claimed the first gold medal with victory in the triple jump, while German gymnast Hermann Weingärtner collected the most medals, with six, and his compatriot Carl Schuhmann picked up the most golds with three for gymnastics and one for wrestling.

Overall, the first Olympic Games of the modern area were hailed as a great success, attracting more than 200 competitors from 14 nations.

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