No one actually knows how the Olympics originated. The genesis of τὰ Ὀλύμπια (ta Olympia),
as it was known in Ancient Greece, is shrouded in mystery, myth and legend, but it is believed that they began around 776 BC in Olympia, Greece. The Games were held every four years (an Olympiad)
and were a way for the various Greek City-States to impose their power, influence and culture over their neighbors all along the Mediterranean.
As a whole, Ancient Games were a lot less complex than their contemporary counterparts. For starters, only men could compete in the games. In fact, only men could even watch
the games, which is understandable considering that all athletes competed au naturel.
The events were simple strength and skill events, mostly consisting of the discus, wrestling, chariot-racing, track, and the javelin. There was no canoe sprint, handball, trampoline, modern pentathlon or whatever other crazy skill that now constitutes an Olympic sport. (I don’t dislike the modern pentathlon; I know for a fact I could not hold a candle to that kind of athleticism. It’s just, that’s not even a sport
; it is five totally unrelated sports all rolled into one event.) The Games were also so important that wars were put on hold so that athletes could travel and compete in safety. (The simple courtesy of putting a war on pause for a sporting event is a concept that is beyond the comprehension of the modern world, as the 6th
Olympics were all canceled because of World Wars.) The Ancient Games continued without interruption until 394 AD when they were suppressed by Theodosius I of the Roman Empire. The next Olympic Games would not be held until 1896, and would not have been possible had it not been for the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin. Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which is the official organizer for the modern Olympic, Youth Olympic Games and Winter Olympics. (This competition has its own set of peculiar competitions, in my opinion, like the Biathlon and Curling.)
So, all the work a host country has to go through to plan the Games, we really can’t begrudge them a little bragging rights, now can we? The Olympic Opening Ceremony (which is the biggest platform for peaceful bragging I think a country could ever hope for) is the official “Beginning” of the Olympics. Though most follow a basic, traditional outline, just about everything else is at the discretion of the Host Country. For the rest of the ceremony, the Host Country will put on a series of musical events, plays, stories, dances, and whatever else their Olympic Committees can think
of that perfectly emulates the spirit, pride and traditions of their country. Ever since 1980, the Opening Ceremony has grown in scale and complexity, with the Opening Ceremony at the Beijing Games costing over $100 million dollars.
There are not enough things that could be said about the Beijing Opening Ceremony, and everyone from the President of the IOC to Steven Spielberg have given it almost reverential reviews, but I believe former British Prime Minister Tony Blair summed it up best when he called it “the spectacular to end all spectaculars and probably can never be bettered.” It would take an entire book to compile everything that happened during the Beijing Opening Ceremony, but I can say with full confidence that it is something everyone on earth should see at least once, because it was without a doubt a modern wonder of the world. So with China receiving such glowing responses and a performance that will be talked about for the rest of living memory and beyond, it was well within reason to be a little bit concerned for 2012’s champion: England.
The one question on everyone’s mind was, Are you ready, England?
We weren’t entirely sure until July 27th
, but according to the Olympic posters that cover almost every square inch of London’s airports, subways, train stations, bus stops and taxis; we can tell how the Brits felt about this question. All of these posters proudly, simply, and quite epically have only two words next to an Olympic Gold Medal: We’re Ready.
Well, it’s safe to say that ready they were – though in was not nearly as dramatic, or flashy, or a light-show of epic proportions, London’s Opening Ceremony was distinctly British.
It was about the people of the British Isles, their culture, their music, their literature, their contribution to the world, and it must be said that the event was just as beautiful as Beijing’s in its own right. (Though in my opinion, that epic combination of The Queen and Daniel Craig doing James Bond acrobatics and a legion of Mary Poppins doing battle with a 100-foot tall replica of Voldemort was enough to trump China’s Opening Ceremony in one fell swoop.)
Despite all the anticipation for the Opening Ceremony, most Americans are focused on supporting and seeing their athletes compete on a global scale. All of Team USA’s talented athletes could not have made it to London alone, however, and from the first whistle till the last flag is raised, they will need the love and support of all their countrymen. So get some patriotism going for the last few days of July and the month of August and take a look at a selection of new arrivals. First up is Lamy’s Studio Royal Red Fountain Pen(Preorders Taken now), reminiscent of the Stars and Stripes, it is a special edition of the already successful Lamy Studio Series. With a metallic body colored in an attractive matt red style, it boasts a 14k anodized bi-color gold nib available in extra fine, fine, medium and broad. Next is the Retro51 Tornado Vintage collection
, whose finished pieces are aged to perfection. Every member is named after an American president and has a classically, enchanting style. From acid-etchings covered with an antique finish to diamond cuts coated with classic lacquer for a textured feel, these pieces are the pinnacle of design perfection. Last but certainly not least is the Lamy 2000 Brushed Stainless Steel
(Preorders taken). It is the newest in a series that has been manufactured, using a combination of polycarbonate and stainless steel, for over 40 years. The Lamy 2000 has all the finesse, velvetiness and executive appeal that are common in all Olympians. Prepare yourself, because the London 2012
Games, and this divine selection, are treasures that simply cannot be missed.