Origin of the Olympic Games
The Olympic Games began in ancient Greece about 3,000 years ago. From the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D., the Games were held every four years in Olympia, in Southern Greece’s western peninsula, Peloponnese. The Games honored the Greek God Zeus, who was the god of the sky and ruler of the Olympian Gods. After the Roman Empire conquered Greece in the mid-2nd century B.C., the Games continued, but their standards and quality declined.
Emperor Theodosius I Bans all “Pagan” Festivals
In A.D. 393, Emperor Theodosius I, a Christian, called for a ban on all “pagan” festivals, ending the ancient Olympic tradition after nearly 12 centuries. In November 1892 (about 1,500 years after the end of the ancient Greek Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937) of France (dedicated to promoting physical education), at a meeting of the Union des Sports Athlétiques in Paris, revived the idea of the Olympics as an international athletic competition held every four years. Upon approval two years later, he founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which would become the governing body of the modern Olympic Games.
The First Modern Day Olympics
The first modern-day Olympics took place in 1896 in Athens, and featured 280 participants from 13 nations, competing in 43 events. Since 1994, the Summer and Winter Olympic Games have been held separately and have alternated every two years.
By the time the 8th Olympic Games were held in Paris in the summer of 1924, more than 3,000 athletes from 44 nations (including 100+ women), competed and for the first time the Games featured a closing ceremony. And, included among the competitors was Frederick “Morgan” Taylor of Sioux City, Iowa, who went on the win the Olympic Gold Medal in the 400 Metre Hurdle Competition.
Where are My Family’s Athletes?
Now, if you have followed my blog posts, here’s where you might ask about whether Morgan Taylor might have been one of my paternal Taylor ancestors from my great grandmother “Lottie Taylor Chamber’s” branch. Obviously, I would like to think so, but I have not uncovered any facts to prove such a statement at this time. However, this does beg the question; “Did I descend from any ancestors who may have been athletes or even Olympians?” Our Bolling, Taylor, Chambers, and Ford ancestors were prominent within their society’s times for many reasons. For example, they were freedom fighters, ministers, musicians, artists, writers, scholars, academicians, local and national government leaders, founders of cities, universities, and leaders among farmers and businesses.
As the televised ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics Games comes to a close this Sunday, February 23, at the symbolic hour of 20:14 local time, I am hopeful that I might have heard from some of my followers about family members who are or were athletes during their lives. And, if I do, you can count on me to update you. Meanwhile, Hooray to all America’s Olympians!