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In the News – Summer Olympics

In the News

The ancient Olympic games were held to celebrate the Greek Gods every four years between 776 BC. and 393 AD on the plains of Olympia. The games, simple by today’s standards, included such sports as running (various distances), long jump, shot put, javelin toss, discus, wrestling, boxing, martial arts and equestrian events. Although women were not allowed to participate in the ancient Olympic Games, a separate event held every four years, the Herean Games, offered women an opportunity to compete with each other. The ancient Olympic games gathered athletes and spectators from throughout the region, including many cities often at war with each other. Even during times of warfare, truces were called during the duration of the games, and all athletes and their families were provided safe passage through disputed territories.

In April, 1896, the first modern Olympic Games were held. The site was Athens, Greece, to pay tribute to the ancient origins of the Games. Athletes competed in 43 events in 9 sporting categories: aquatics, athletics (track & field), cycling, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, tennis, weightlifting and wrestling. One of the major highlights for these first modern games was the introduction of the 25+ mile Marathon, which was created to honor the legend of Pheidippides, who was said to have carried the news of the Greek victory at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC by running from Marathon to Athens (and then dropping dead). The Greek hosts of the 1896 Games were proud to have Spyridon Louis, a 24-year-old Greek shepherd, win this inaugural event. The first-ever medal won in the modern Olympics went to American James Connolly, who took gold in the triple jump on April 6, 1896. Ultimately, 14 nations had 241 (all-male) athletes compete in 43 separate events that year. 

Since 1896, the summer Olympic Games have been held every 4 years, with the exceptions of 1940 and 1944, during the waging of World War II. The summer games of Rio de Janeiro in 2016 will be the games of the 31st Summer Olympiad. Winter games were added in 1924, and (with the same WWII exceptions) have been held every four years since. At the last summer Olympics (2012 in London, England), 204 countries were represented by 10,568 athletes (4,676 women, 5,892 men), who competed in 302 separate events. 

The Lincoln City Libraries has a large collection of materials about the Olympics and the sports that are included in the Olympic games. In addition to the examples shown below, we encourage you to visit our on-line catalog and use a “Subject” search under “Olympic Games — ____“, substituting a year for the ____, to see specific items about many of the specific Olympiads from 1896 to the present. Additionally, we have numerous sports biographies of athletes whose crowning achievements were accomplished during the Olympics. 

Related Materials in Our Collection

The links in this section of this list will take you directly into the items’ entries in the catalog of the Lincoln City Libraries, where you can check on the items’ availability throughout the library system.


The following are a sampling of books in the library’s collection dealing with the history of the modern Olympic games. Click the first three links for larger lists under those respective subject headings. 


Olympic Games [general subject heading] 
Olympic Games [Ancient] [general subject heading]


Black American Women in Olympic Track and Field: A Complete Illustrated Reference  – 796.42 Dav – [1992] Olympics Most Wanted: The Top 10 Book of Gold Medal Gaffes, Improbable Triumphs and Other Oddities  – 796.48 Con – [2001] The Olympics: A History of the Modern Games  – 796.48 Gut 2002 – [2002] This Great Symbol: Pierre de Coubertin and the Origins of the Modern Olympic Games  – 796.48 Mac – [1981] The Olympics: Athens to Athens — 1896-2004  – 796.48 qOly – [2004] Inside the Olympics: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Politics, the Scandals and the Glory of the Games  – 796.48 Pou – [2004] Power, Politics and the Olympic Games  – 796.48 Sen – [1999] Complete Book of the Summer Olympics — Athens 2004 edition  – 796.48 Wal – [2004]


The library owns materials about most of the following sports, all of which are contested in the Olympic Games. The date in parentheses following the sport is the year in which that sport first appeared in Olympic competition. If the name of a sport is hotlinked, clicking it will connect you to that subject heading in our on-line catalog. Keep in mind that not all the materials on these varied subjects will be specifically about the Olympic versions of these sports, especially for such popular sports as baseball, basketball, tennis, etc. 

Aquatics [1896]

  • Diving [Platform, Springboard, and Synchronized]
  • Swimming [variety of Individual and team Relay]
  • Synchronized Swimming [Duet and Team — women only]
  • Water Polo [Mens and Womens teams]

Archery [1900]

Athletics [1896] [Track and Field, Sprinting, Running, Jumping]

  • Track [Sprints, Middle- and Long-Distance Running, Hurdles, Relays and the 3000m Steeplechase]
  • Field [Long Jump, Triple Jump, High Jump, Pole Vault, Shot Put, Discus, Javelin, and Hammer Throw]
  • Road [Marathon, and Race Walks]
  • Combined [Heptathlon for Women, Decathlon for Men]

Badminton [1902]

Basketball [1936]

Boxing [1904]

Canoe / Kayak [1936]

  • Flatwater
  • Slalom

Cycling [1896]

  • Road
  • Track
  • Mountain Bike

Equestrian [1900]

  • Dressage
  • Eventing
  • Jumping

Fencing [1896]

Football [a.k.a. Soccer] [1900]

Golf [2016]

Gymnastics [1896]

  • Artistic [Individual and Team]
  • Rhythmic [Individual and Team]
  • Trampoline

Handball [1936]

Hockey [a.k.a. Field Hockey] [1908]

Judo [1964]

Modern Pentathlon [1912]

Rowing [1896]

Rugby Sevens [2016]

Sailing [1900]

Shooting [1896]

Table Tennis [1988]

Taekwondo [2000]

Tennis [1896]

Triathlon [2000]

Volleyball [1964]

  • Beach Volleyball
  • Volleyball

Weightlifting [1896]

Wrestling [1896]

  • Freestyle
  • Greco-Roman


The following are a sampling of videos featuring footage from past Olympics, plus the soundtrack CD including music used during the Olympics television coverage of the past 20 years. 

Summon the Heroes  – Compact Disc 781.68 Bos – [1996] 100 Years of Olympic Glory  – Video 796.48 One – [1996] Sixteen Days of Glory, Pt I  – Video 796.48 Six – [1986] Sixteen Days of Glory, Pt. II  – Video 796.48 Six – [1986] USA! USA! USA!  – Video 796.48 Spo – [1992] Record Breakers of the Olympic Games  – Video 796.48 Spo – [1992] Great Olympic Confrontations  – Video 796.48 Spo – [1992] ABC Wide World of Sports: 40 Years of Glory – DVD 791.457 WidYe – [2006] Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team – DVD 796.33 Dar – [2007]

Online Resources

The following databases and/or webliographies on the Lincoln City Libraries site can be used to access numerous articles and/or links to additional resources on-line. [If you have difficulty using these databases, please contact the Reference Department at 441-8530 for assistance.]

Database: Magazine Article Search [periodical index and database] Database: eLibrary [periodical & broadcast media index and database]

Additional on-line resources * about the Summer Olympics:

Official Web site of the Olympic Movement The International Olympic Committee’s site
Rio de Janeiro Official Web site of the 2016 Summer Games
United States Olympic Committee Official Web site of the U.S. Olympic team
1896 Athens Olympics – A look back at the first modern Olympics (no longer active)
The Olympic Studies Centre
Sports Illustrated/CNN’s Olympics Web site

* Please Note: The presence of a link on this site does not constitute an endorsement by Lincoln City Libraries.