21 amazing Olympic first-time-ever facts


Following a string of other Olympic firsts in Sochi…

This year British snowboarder Jenny Jones won a bronze medal in slopestyle – the first time the event has featured in the Winter Olympics.

Sochi has become an Olympics of firsts, featuring, among many others, the first gold medal tie in an alpine skiing event, the first ever women’s ski jumping, and the first competitor from the African nation Togo.

As Sochi 2014 draws to a close, we look at 21 of history’s greatest Olympic firsts.

1.     The first Olympic Games on record was held in 776 BC, but it’s thought the competition was running long before then. The first champion on record was Coroebus, a cook from Elis, who won an olive branch in the running race.

Ancient Olympics

2.     The first ever event of the modern Olympic Games was the first heat of the 100m, held on 6 April 1896.

Olympic marathon 1896

Marathon runners in the 1896 Olympics


3.     The first female Olympic champion was GB’s Charlotte Cooper, who won the tennis singles in 1900. She wasn’t, though, the first female Olympic gold medallist, as Swiss sailor Hélène de Pourtalès was part of a boat crew which had earlier that same Olympics won gold.

4.     The first time the teams and competitors were representatives of countries rather than entering in clubs or as individuals was in London in 1908 – also the first time athletes marched into the stadium behind their nations’ flags.

Olympic flag 2012

The Olympic flag returned to London for the 2012 Olympic Games

5.     The first brother and sister to win Olympic medals were William and Lottie Dod. He won gold in the men’s archery competition, and she was an Wimbledon tennis champion who won the silver medal in the women’s archery competition.

6.     The first Games to include athletes from all five continents was Stockholm in 1912.

1912 Olympics

7.     The first death of an athlete at the Olympic Games was also in 1912. Portuguese runner Francisco Lázaro collapsed after 18 miles of the marathon and died the next day. It was originally thought he died of dehydration, but later discovered the wax he put on his skin to prevent sunburn prevented sweating and caused a serious water-electrolyte imbalance.

8.    The first Olympic Games in which the Olympic Flag was flown was 1920.

9.    The first Winter Olympic Games were held in Chamonix, France in 1924.

10.   The first use of a victory podium was in 1932.

11.   The first Games held in the southern hemisphere was in 1956 in Melbourne.

12.   The first black African to win a gold medal was in Rome in 1960. Ethiopian marathon runner Abebe Bikila ran barefoot all the way.

Abebe Bikila

13.   The first Games to be televised was the Berlin Olympics in 1936, with events shown on large screens around Berlin. The first Olympic Games to appear on domestic televisions was the 1948 London Games which was transmitted within the British Isles. The first Olympic Games to be covered by television worldwide was the Rome Olympics in 1960.

14.   The first athlete to be disqualified for drug use was Sweden’s Hans-Gunner Liljenwall, who allegedly had two beers to steady his nerves before the shooting portion of the modern pentathlon in Mexico City 1968.

15.   The first Olympic mascot was Waldi the dachshund, who appeared at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.

Olympic mascot Waldi

16.   The first time the Olympic Games was suspended was also in 1972, when Israeli athletes were kidnapped and subsequently killed during the Munich Massacre.

17.   The first time all recognised National Olympic Committees were together at the Games was in 1996. There were 197 at that point, but there are now 204.

18.   The first athlete to win gold medals in five consecutive Olympics was British rower Steve Redgrave, who won his first in Los Angeles in 1984 and his fifth in Sydney in 2000.

Steve Redgrave 2000 Olympics

19.   The first Olympic torch to visit all five continents was for the Athens Olympics in 2004.

20.   The first double amputee, and first amputee runner to compete in the Olympic Games, was South African Oscar Pistorius in London 2012.

Oscar Pistorius starting blocks

21.   The first South American city to host the Olympic Games will be Rio in 2016.

Rio Olympics 2016

Rio’s Olympic park is currently under construction



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