The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.
-Pierre de Coubertin, credited with the revival of the ancient games
For millenniums, the Olympic Games have stood as the most fierce and intense sporting competitions among the greatest athletes on the planet. The games and their competitors inspire the masses. It is where real-life heroes are not born, but molded, through their struggles and triumphs. We collectively watched in awe as Michael Phelps took home 22 medals. We’ll never forget the unparalleled artistry of swordsman Aladar Gerevich. Over the years, we’ve witnessed and shared the joy of the most rousing victories of all time. The greats forever leave their legacy imprinted on the five rings.
According to findings, the Games originated more than 3 millenniums ago in Olympia of ancient Greece, dating back as early as 8th century B.C. In 776 B.C., the games began to honor the god Zeus, and continued for 1200 years until they were banned by Emperor Theodosius as a pagan cult. The Games began as a one day event, until being expanded to three days in 684 B.C., and later five days. The events included running, long jump, shot put, javelin, boxing, pankration and equestrian competitions. The athletes became immortalized by their peers and seized legendary status for all eternity.
The first modern Olympic Games were brought back to life by Pierre de Coubertin in 1896 in Athens, Greece, and featured 280 contenders from 13 nations, competing in 43 sporting events. The games were originally held every four years, until the Summer Games and Winter Games were officially split in 1994 and began alternating every two years.
Whether overcoming adversity, an injury or prejudice, fighting for an unlikely dream against all odds, or the sheer velocity of the finish, Olympic athletes guarantee that certain moments in Olympic history become instant classics. Their stories continued to be told and retold as anthems for never giving up and the power of determination. For instance, we all remember the year a snowless country shocked the world and produced a fierce bobsled team that earned respect from competitors, commentators and spectators across the globe. In the 1988 games in Calgary, a Jamaican Bobsled team defined themselves as a force to be reckoned with. At first, many thought it was a joke. They promptly changed their minds.
The Games are widely regarded around the globe as the preeminent sporting competition, where the best of the elite pour every ounce of their drive, skill and passion into their performance. The 2014 Winter Olympics Games will commence on February 7 in Sochi Russia, and will include the following sports: Alpine Skiing, Blathlon, Bobsleigh, Cross Country Skiing, Curling, Figure Skating, Freestyle Skiing, Ice Hockey, Luge, Nordic Combined, Short Track Speed Skating, Skeleton, Ski Jumping, Snowboard, Speed Skating. We’ll watch intensely with the rest of the world, cheering for our country and our heroes.