Greece was the first country to host the modern Olympic Games. The year was 1896, and athletes from all over the world came to show their skills and compete. Today, the athletes are so dedicated to their sport that they practice daily, oftentimes to the point of exhaustion. Competitions start at a young age on the local levels and, as the athletes show their extraordinary abilities and begin to mature in their sport, they eventually compete in international competitions. To an athlete, it is an honor to reach the status of an Olympian. Each of these representatives has spent most of their young lives working towards the goal of competing and winning a gold medal for their country. Sometimes, the Olympic Games are interrupted due to world politics and conflicts. Germany was to host the Olympics in 1916, but that year Europe was in the middle of WW-I. It was not until 1931 that the Olympic committee chose Berlin to host the XI Olympiad. Eighty years ago, athletes came to the 1936 Berlin Summer Games, but it was not without controversy. The Nazi party was in control of Germany at that time, and Hitler wanted to use the Games to showcase his country and the superiority of the Aryan race. There was talk of boycotting the games. In America, the Amateur Athletic Union was split down the middle on whether to let their athletes attend the Berlin Games. Avery Brundage, president of the American Olympic Committee, convinced the athletes and the American Athletic Union by appealing to the spirit of the games and reminding them that the games were not about politics but for the athletes. In dark times, there always seems to be people that stand out among the rest. This person was from a very humble family – his grandfather was a slave and his father was a sharecropper. His nickname was the “Buckeye Bullet” – he was a college student at Ohio State University – and his name was Jesse Owens. Even though it was oppressive for African Americans, Jesse decided to represent his country. The U.S. Olympic Team wanted to show Hitler that superiority was not only for the Aryan race. Jesse Owens showed Hitler and the world what an African American could accomplish. He entered four events and earned four gold medals – he was the first American in Track and Field to achieve four gold medals in one Olympiad. Also, he set three Olympic records and tied one world record. Eighty years later, we are lucky to be able to again enjoy the events through television, the Internet, and instant streaming. What a wonderful way to watch the skills of the athletes, who are all gold medalists at heart. This year’s Summer Olympic Games begin on August 5 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and continue through August 21. I hope you get a chance to watch some of the events, because these amazing athletes are truly world-class!
SharLeigh has an inquisitive nature – she is interested in current events, history, science and many more subjects, including things that go bump in the night! Since 1997, SharLeigh has scoured the internet, looking for interesting, fun and timely topics covering all sorts of human-interest subjects for her articles from her home in Fontana, CA.