19 Trivia Facts About the Olympics to Win Medals With

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics that are starting one year late are just around the corner, which means we might get to see some cool things on TV for a bit. Unfortunately, shenanigans are already afoot, but luckily you (and us too) don’t have to be Olympic athletes to enjoy neat facts. 

Olympic Trivia Facts

1. The first “modern Olympic Games” were held in Athens, 1896.

2. American Eddie Eagan is the only person to have won a gold medal in both the Summer and Winter Olympics and in different disciplines. He won a gold in boxing in 1920 and in bobsled in 1932.

3. Another athlete has won gold medals in both the Summer and Winter Olympics, though they were both in figure skating. His name’s Gillis Grafström.

4. At least one color from each of the Olympics rings appears on every country’s flag.

5. Athletes have won gold medals while competing for two different nations. Daniel Carrol represented both Australia (1908) and the US (1920) in rugby. Kakhi Kakhiashvili won gold medals in weightlifting for Barcelona in 1992, and Greece in 1996 and 2000. 

6. In the 8th century BC, Olympic athletes competed nude.

7. The youngest on-record, Dimitrios Loundras, Olympian competed at 10 years old. He competed in 1896.

8. Once Beijing hosts the Winter Olympics in 2022, it will be the first city to host both a Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

9. John Baxter Taylor Jr. was the first African-American to win an Olympic gold medal, doing so in 1908.

10. 1 out of every 10 Olympic medals in swimming for the US were won by Michael Phelps.

11. George Eyser won 3 gold, 2 silver, and 1 bronze medal in the 1904 Olympic Games with a wooden left leg. This predates the first Paralympic Games, which were in 1960. 

George Eyser (center) at the 1904 Saint Louis Games

12. Prisoners of war held in camp Woldenberg during WWII held their own Olympics. They made makeshift flags out of spare bedsheets. 

13. Olympic gold medals are over at least 92.5% silver. The last time they were made completely out of gold was 1904.

14. You’re not allowed to backflip in figure skating.

15. Surya Bonaly did one though, because she’s cooler than all of us.

We will never be as cool as someone who can do backflips with blades on their feet. (Joel Richardson/The Washington Post)

16. At the ancient Olympic Games, people won olive wreaths.

17. Biting Olympic medals stems from the olden days where coins were forged with lead instead of being made of precious metals. 

18. Athletes who broke rules during the ancient Olympic Games were publicly whipped as punishment. Oof.

19. Pankration was one of the most brutal Olympic sports, a combat event where only biting and eye-gouging was forbidden. Yes, people died. No, we don’t do it anymore.

See if you know who’s taking home medals as of 2018 here.