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20 Rare Historical Facts about Olympic Games That You Never Knew

6. Olympic gold medals are only 1% gold and 92.5% silver. They would be worth over $25k if they were pure gold but instead the medal value is only approximately $600.

Olympic Medals
Image Source: deadspin

Solid gold medals were only awarded until 1912 since 1904. The last time they were awarded was during the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stolkholm, Sweden. The silver and bronze medals have similar fate. For the silver medal, the gold is replaced by copper and costs $260. The bronze medal is 97 percent copper and the rest is zinc and tin, valuing just $3.(source)

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7. Margaret Abbott, the first female American to win a gold medal, never knew she was an Olympian as long as she was alive. After her death it was discovered that the Golf tournament she participated in was part of a poorly-organized 1900 Olympics.

Margaret Ives Abbott
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, thegolfballfactory

The 1900 Olympics were the first in which women were allowed to participate in “ladylike” games such as golf, tennis and yachting. The games were organized in Paris, and were the only Olympic events in which valuable artifacts were give instead of actual medals. Margaret Abbott received a porcelain bowl for first place in Golf.(source)

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8. Ancient Olympics had mixed martial arts competitions too, known as Pankration. It was the only event that wasn’t reinstated after the revival of Olympic Games in 1896.

Pankration
Image Source: ancientolympics

The Pankration included combat techniques from boxing and wrestling such as kicks and holds, locks and chokes. Except for gouging the eyes and biting the opponent every other technique was allowed. The term itself literally means “all of might”. After reinstating the games in the 19th century, the archbishop of Lyon, Pierre-Hector Coullié, declared that all events, except Pankration, would be accepted.(source)

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9. During 1936 Berlin Olympic games, the Nazis ridiculed the US for relying on “non-human black auxiliaries.” American black athlete Jesse Owens went on to win 4 gold medals and beat a German at Long Jump in front of Hitler. Four years after Owens’ death, a street in Berlin was renamed after him.

Jesse Owens
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, biography

Jesse Owens was a four-time gold medalist and competed in sprinting and long jumps. Despite his many wins, he received much discrimination in his own country, the United States. Even the then President F. D. Roosevelt didn’t send him a message to congratulate him. He was noted for destroying Hitler’s theory on Aryan supremacy over everyone else.(source)

10. The United States of America is the only country that doesn’t dip its flag during the Olympic opening ceremonies. 

US Flag - 2012 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony
Image Source: zimbio

During the opening ceremonies, the teams from each participating country briefly dips their flag as a sign of respect to the host nation, something that the U. S. refuses to do. Though, the actual reason is unclear, there is a story when it started in 1908 London Summer Olympics, when an Irish American player refused to lower the flag to King Edward VII in protest. However, after that, the flag was dipped by a few countries and not by others. By 1936, they made a decision not to dip it because the head of state was Hitler. By the end of the Second World War, it became a tradition for the U. S. teams not to dip the flag. (source)

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