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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Ask the Experts


READY TO RUN Sprinters line up for the 100m final at the 1896 Olympics

After a hiatus of more than 1,500 years, the Olympics returned to Greece in April 1896. Competitors from 14 countries converged on Athens to take part in 43 events (compared to more than 300 at Rio 2016) including weightlifting, wrestling, gymnastics, swimming, tennis, shooting, track and field, and a marathon along the legendary route taken by Pheidippides. The ancient sports formed the template, but boxing was replaced with the more civilised fencing, whilst chariot racing became cycling.

If that all sounds rather sensible, disciplines were far more unusual at the following Olympics in Paris. Imagine picking up the gold for tug of war, ballooning, live pigeon shooting, high and long jumps whilst on horseback, or the swimming obstacle course.

LINKS TO THE PAST The poster from the 1896 Games includes a subtle nod to 776 BC – the year of the first ancient Olympiad
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About BBC History Revealed

Fifty years ago, astronauts Frank Borman, Bill Anders and Jim Lovell became the first men to escape the clutches of Earth's gravity and journey to the Moon - and in doing so, stole a march on the Soviets in the Space Race. Discover how this mission, hatched amid setbacks and failures, and shaped by the wider tensions of the Cold War, gave the US something to hope for after the trauma of 1968. Plus: History's greatest coincidences, what happened to fallen French emperor Napoleon after the Battle of Waterloo, the value of Britain's battlefields, why King James VI and I was obsessed with witch hunting, and more.