An Olympic Games Primer

Author: Lisa Vaccarelli, C’02, GED’10

As you can see from my colleague’s previous post, we have a little bit of Olympic-fever here in Alumni Relations.  But with the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games quickly approaching, what better time to reflect on this historic event through a Red & Blue lens?

For those curious about the origins of the Olympics, look no further than Thomas Tartaron, associate professor of Classical Studies.  As Tartaron explains in the latest issue of the SAS Frontiers e-magazine, some aspects of the event haven’t changed much at all:

Like today’s game…a major portion of the [Olympic games] lent itself to money making.  Feasting was a constant over the span of five days, punctuated with athlete fanfare and victory processions.  Greeks came by land and sea to attend the games, which translated into financial gain for those offering food and lodging.

Scene from Attic Black Figure Amphora , ca. 510-490 BC, depicting a boxing contest (‘pugme’). Two boxers wear soft leather ‘himantes’ or boxing gloves. The man with the long stick is either a judge or trainer. A naked youth stands by, holding extra ‘himantes.’ University of Pennsylvania Museum Object ID MS403.

Wondering how many Quakers have made it to the pinnacle of athletic competition?  A recent Pennsylvania Gazette article breaks down the numbers:

Excluding the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, a Penn student, coach, faculty member, or alumnus has appeared in every single Summer Olympics…According to an online exhibition posted by the University Archives and Records Center, Penn’s athletes have won at least 26 gold medals, 28 silver medals, and 28 bronze medals…In all, the University of Pennsylvania has sent nearly 200 athletes, coaches, managers, doctors, and committee members to the Olympics—competing in sports that include track, rowing, swimming, wrestling, field hockey, equestrian, fencing, rugby, and yachting and representing countries ranging from Canada to Belize to Great Britain and to Greece.

This year is no exception to this tradition. Susan Francia,C’04, G’04 who won a gold medal as part of the women’s eight boat at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, was selected for the same eight-person boat at the 2012 Olympics.

And now, let the games begin!

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1 Comment

Filed under Alumni Perspective, Athletics, Lisa V.

One response to “An Olympic Games Primer

  1. Ben

    Don’t forget Koko Archibong, C’03, playing basketball for Nigeria.

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