The Modern Olympic era began officially in 1896 with the first games played in Athens, Greece, where it all began many centuries earlier. This rebirth was the fulfillment of a dream of Baron Pierre de Coubertin of France, who is considered the father of the Modern Olympics and was the Second President of the newly formed International Olympic Committee. You might wonder, who was the first president?
Sharing this dream of a modern Olympic games was the First President of the IOC, Demetrios Vikelas, a Greek businessman living in Paris. Together, they gave birth to the modern Olympic Games. Their purpose was much the same as in the ancient games: to promote peace among nations.
Greeks are proud people. Even today, we are proud of the ideal and the legacy of the Olympic Games. You can imagine how proud the Greeks were to host the first modern Olympics. And as Orthodox Christians, we share in the promotion of their ideal.
From such a small nation, you could expect they would not do very well in the competition. Still, it was they who invented the Games centuries ago and then helped revive them in the modern era. Nonetheless, they did indeed do very well. Host nation Greece won the most medals overall, 46.
The last competition was the marathon. Greece's entrant was named Spyridon Louis, a water deliverer with a military background. His commanding officer and one of the organizers encouraged him to participate. When the race started, Spiros was far back in the pack of marathoners. As the miles wore on, he moved up steadily. One by one the leaders began to falter. The Frenchman fell in agony. The hero from the United States had to quit the race. Soon, word reached the stadium that a lone runner was approaching the arena, and the emblem of Greece was on his chest! As the excitement grew, Prince George of Greece hurried to the stadium entrance where he met Louis and ran with him to the finish line.
The moral of this story comes to us from another great Greek sage in his epic tale about the Tortoise and the Hare: Aesop. “You can be more successful by doing things slowly and steadily than by acting quickly and carelessly.”