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Last Updated: Friday, 9 July, 2004, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
Athens 1896
Baron De Coubertin
Baron De Coubertin inspired the first modern Games
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Greek winner Spiridon Louis beat his nearest marathon rival by over seven minutes
The first of the modern Olympic Games was staged in the Greek capital Athens, although financial difficulties almost saw it held in Budapest, Hungary.

Initially it was intended that Paris would host the first Olympics in 1900.

But Athens was chosen four years earlier, although Greece ran into financial difficulties.

Budapest offered to take over the Games but Crown Prince Constantine of Greece set up an organising committee and the donations flood in.

Just over 200 men, representing 14 countries, competed in a total of 43 events.

The majority of the participants were from the host nation with tennis, track and field, fencing, weightlifting, cycling, wrestling, shooting, swimming and gymnastics all contested.

Cricket and football tournaments were cancelled due to a lack of participating teams while rowing and sailing competitions fell victim to poor weather.

Event winners received a silver medal, a certificate and a crown of olive leaves.

Runners-up were given bronze medals and a crown of laurel while third placed participants went home empty=-handed.

The first Olympic winner was American James Brendan Connolly who took the triple jump with a leap of 13.71 metres.

With the enthusiasm of the Greek people, the Games were deemed a great success.

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