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"Faster, higher, stronger"
— motto of the Olympic Games

Participation medal, 1896
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All participants in the first modern Olympics received a bronze medal designed by Belgian sculptor Godefroid Devreese (1861–1940). First-place winners were awarded silver medals and olive wreaths, while the second-place finishers received copper medals and laurel crowns. At the 1904 St. Louis Olympics, gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded for the first time.

— Gift of Stack's Rare Coins

The First Modern Olympic Games, Athens, Greece, 1896

Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin assembled the first International Olympic Committee and organized the first modern Olympic Games, held in Athens in 1896. Coubertin was inspired by the ancient Greek games—dating back to 776 B.C.—where competition was honored above winning. He sought to capture that spirit in the modern Olympics and made the Games an international celebration of sportsmanship and peace.

The first modern Olympics attracted 250 male athletes from 14 nations who competed in 43 events. At the 2004 Athens Olympics, more than 10,500 men and women from 202 nations participated in 300 different events. While the original Games offered just nine sports, the 2004 Games featured more than 37 different competitive fields. Now staged every two years, alternating between Winter and Summer Games, the Olympics are the most anticipated international sporting event, viewed in person and on television by more than two billion spectators.

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