Tag Archives: olympics

Summer Olympic Games: TRACK & FIELD

Janelle Yahne
Circulation Associate

Though it is officially titled Athletics in the Olympics, Track & Field encompasses many outdoor sports including running, long jump, and decathlon. Athletics has been a part of the Olympic Games since the beginning and has grown significantly from the original twelve events in 1896 to forty-seven in 2012. Since 1948, the men’s competition includes twenty-four sports. Women’s Athletics continues to grow from the original five in 1928, to twenty-three in 2012. It is one of the more popular events in the Olympics for the United States with many of the most popular athletes regularly featured in promotions.   A few famous American Track & Field athletes include Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersey, Dan O’Brien, Lolo Jones, Jim Thorpe, and Jesse Owens.  USA Track and Field has a long list and links to Hall of Fame inductees to learn more.

Athletic competitions are one of the longest running competitive sports dating back to Ancient Greece with the Ancient Olympics.  Ancient Athletics include sprinting, discus, and chariot racing. The original version of the pentathlon includes running, jumping, spear-throwing, discus and wrestling with these sports now separate events in the Modern Olympics. The current pentathlon, no longer held under Athletics, includes pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, running, and horse riding. Though the marathon race happens every year since the inaugural Modern Olympics to connect the past and the present, it was not a part of the Ancient games.  A virtual introduction to Olympic history can be found at Olympics.org.

The GRCC Library carries materials about Athletics including a few titles below. Track and Field events begin August 3rd. This year NBC will be streaming Olympic events online along with the broadcasts.

Enjoy the games!

A Kind of Grace:  The Autobiography of the World’s Greatest Female Athlete, by Jackie Joyner-Kersee with Sonja Steptoe.

The Best That I Can Be: An Autobiography, by Rafer Johnson with Philip Goldberg.

Jesse Owens: an American Life, by William J. Baker.

Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe, by Kate Buford.

Silent Gesture: Autobiography of Tommie Smith, by Tommie Smith with David Steele. (ebook)

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Summer Olympic Games: AQUATICS

By Janelle Yahne
Circulation Associate

There will be numerous aquatic events for the Olympics to entice people into a pool during this hot summer. Olympic Swimming has been a part of the Modern Olympics since its inception in 1896 with the women’s events coming on in 1912.  Contemporary swimming now includes freestyle (or crawl), breaststroke, butterfly, and backstroke.  Swimming events started July 28th with 34 medal events.  This year, Michael Phelps will attempt a new record in total medals won as he competes in seven events during his third Olympics. Other American swimmers to watch are Ryan Lochte, Phelps’ teammate, and Missy Franklin, a teenage phenom.

Diving has been a part of the Olympics since 1904, with women’s events being added in 1912. Diving is a favorite sport of mine due to the strength and balance necessary to jump into the water with very little splash.  The competition includes eight events using either the 3 meter springboard, or the 10 meter platform. Though the US Olympic Team is not as strong in diving as it is in swimming, it has competed quite well historically with Greg Louganis being one of the great American divers. Diving events began July 29th.

Though not as popular as Diving and Swimming when it comes to television coverage, Synchronized Swimming and Water Polo will have Olympic competitions this year. Synchronized Swimming has been an official sport since 1984, but is only for women.  Water Polo has been a part of the Olympics since 1900, except in 1904. Women’s Water Polo was added in 2000. Synchronized Swimming begins August 5th and Water Polo began July 29th.1

Information about these sports can be found at Olympic.org and london2012.com to learn more about the current teams. We also have a few items on swimming and diving available here at the library to fill in any gaps.

1Data taken from swimming, diving, water polo, and synchronized swimming links.

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Summer Olympic Games: A BRIEF HISTORY

By Marcia Lee, Serials Specialist

The Olympic Games first came to be in 776 BC, though they were a far cry from the games & events we watch today.  Exactly how the first Olympic Games originated is somewhat unknown, some speculate that they began as a competition for suitors of the ruler’s daughter’s hand in marriage.  After the first competition the winner wed the daughter and he then carried on the tradition of the games to commemorate his winnings & to honor the Greek “King of all gods”, Zeus.  Others believe that the rulers of each state in Greece met to form a competition in which each state could be represented by their strongest, fastest men.  Another piece of the “Olympic puzzle” not completely known is the original events, although, more than likely running & chariot racing were included.   Even through wartime in Greece, these games were carried on every 4 years until the Roman Empire gained control in 393 AD of the country & outlawed the events due to their pagan rituals.  This ban lasted clear until the Greek War of Independence in the 19th century.

Flash forward several hundreds of years to 1859, Greeks decided to re-establish the tradition their ancestors had started so many years prior.  “Un-official” Olympic Games were held in Athens’ city square in mid-1859.  Two more competitions were held in 1870 & 1875 then in 1894 the International Olympic Committee was formed by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in an attempt to begin the process of officially restoring the tradition of the Olympic Games.  In July 1896 the first official Olympic Games were held in Athens & they have continued to take place every 4 years since.   This first competition brought forth 245 competitors, all men, from an estimated 14 nations.  This year’s Summer Olympics are to have an estimated 204 nations participating, bringing 10,500 athletes (men AND women) out to compete in 26 sports & 302 events.

Although the games have changed immensely, in addition to the participants, from the first events in Greece, the tradition of what it means to be an Olympian has benn carried on – Olympians are honored, highly respected, awarded prizes & admired, as were the first competitors in 776 BC.

The Summer Olympic Games begin today, July 27th & last until August 12th  – learn more about the current games and/or more about the history behind them by checking out the resources the GRCC Library has available for you!


For a full listing of events and the Summer Olympic Schedule taking place this year in London, CLICK HERE.

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