What makes the Olympic Games different from all other competitions in sport is history.
From its beginning as a religious festival in ancient Greece to honor Zeus to its modern revival, shepherded by Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin, the Games have stood apart from any rival program thanks to its pageantry and placement as the pinnacle in competition.
All of that has now been captured – in the lowest-key form possible – by the public debut of the Olympedia.org site formerly only available to Olympic researchers. The leader of the effort behind this site is Dr. Bill Mallon, a Duke All-American golfer who played on the PGA Tour and then became one of the nation’s leading orthopedic surgeons.
He also became one of the world’s pre-eminent authorities on the Olympic Games, authoring multiple books on its history and working with a multi-national team to create an in-depth database of Olympic facts, figures and lists of stunning detail and quality. He noted on the sister OlympStats site today:
“The Olympedia research site contains the profiles and results of all Olympic athletes and informative descriptions about the Games, events, venues, and much more. It is the most comprehensive database about the Olympic Games and is the result many years of work by a group of Olympic historians and statisticians called the OlyMADmen. …
“We have recently received permission to open Olympedia to the public, and it will no longer require a password. We thank the International Olympic Committee for working with us on this project, and granting us this permission. We are excited and hope you will be, too.”
This site is awesome, and if you think that word is overused, a few minutes with the Olympedia site will convince you that it applies:
● The home page is too simple and needs work. It simply offers search tools for athletes, results and Games. But the depth of what’s included is amazing.
● There are six categories in the navigation bar at the top and this is where the fun begins. The choices are Athletes, Countries, Games, Sports, IOC and Statistics. Let’s try Statistics, which shows a drop-down menu with nine choices. When we try “Athlete Bio Data” we find a list of every country which has competed in the Olympic or Winter Games and the total number of athletes sent.
Looking quickly down the list, you find that the U.S. has sent 9,492 athletes to the Games, beginning in 1896, for which the Olympedia database has birthdates on 9,403!
But statistics make stories, and as the United States sent 555 participants to Rio in 2016, it is likely that someone on the 2020 Tokyo team will be the 10,000th U.S. Olympian!
● In the “Countries” tab, you can not only find comprehensive results by country, but an amazing feature called “Head-to-Head,” in which you can generate results of competitions during the Games between two nations in any sport.
So, in men’s basketball, you can see the record between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The two teams played eight times, with the Americans winning the first six, “losing” the controversial 1972 final and losing again in 1988, 82-76, in the semifinals, a game which helped to bring NBA players into the Olympics in 1992.
The U.S. women were 1-1 against the Soviets, losing in 1976, but winning, 102-88, in the 1988 championship semifinals.
Since the Russian Federation came into the Games in 2000, the American men are 1-0 and the women are 3-0 against them through 2016.
● In the “Athletes” section, there are bios of not only men and women, but also horses! Plus an extensive selection of special lists, including
(1) Country doubles: Athletes who competed for more than one country. There are a lot, with 1,854 shown.
(2) Name doubles: Athletes competing under multiple names. There were 1,339 of these, mostly women competing first under their maiden names, then under a married name.
(3) Season doubles: Athletes competing in both the Olympic and Winter Games. Amazingly, there are 144 of these, including several Americans who doubled in track & field and bobsled, and in track cycling and speedskating.
(4) Sport doubles: Athletes competing in more than one sport in their Olympic careers. There are 1,666 of these, including a handful who competed in four!
How about members of the same family competing in the Games? Sure, and you can search by kind of relative, including husbands and wives … together, separated or divorced!
● The “Games” section has overviews and complete results of each Games from 1896 to the present, of course. But you can also look up who opened each Games, the torch bearers and flag bearers of each nations.
And nowhere else will you find a list – more complete than anywhere else – of winners in the ancient Olympic Games! Yes!
The site has lists of the winners of known events, starting from 776 B.C. through 385 A.D. So if you need to settle a bet on who were reigning Olympic champions when Julius Caesar was made Rome’s Emperor in 31 B.C., here’s where you can find that Ariston of Thourioi won the Stadion race and Thaliarchos of Elis won the Boxing competition (probably).
And there are a series of “Lists” in the “Statistics” section which simply boggle the mind:
● Doping Irregularities at the Olympics
● Olympians involved in James Bond movies
● Olympians of Royal Blood
● Olympians who committed suicide
● Olympians who competed posthumously (yes, really)
● Olympians who competed while pregnant
● Olympians who died in Nazi concentration camps
● Olympians who survived Nazi concentration camps
● Olympians who fought at WrestleMania
● Olympians who were Head of State
● Olympic Games defections
● Transgender and Intersex Olympians
And there are a lot, lot more.
It’s a sensational achievement in research, dedication and sacrifice. None of the 21 folks who created this work were paid for it; they are devoted fans of the Olympic Games and deserve our thanks. Mallon identifies them as the “OlyMADMen” with proper emphasis on the “mad” part of it. Their names should be known (and there is one woman in the group):
Bill Mallon (USA)
Arild Gjerde (NOR)
Jeroen Heijmans (NED)
David Foster (ENG)
Hilary Evans (WLS)
Taavi Kalju (EST)
Wolf Reinhardt (GER)
Martin Kellner (AUT)
Ralf Regnitter (GER)
Ralph Schlüter (GER)
Paul Tchir (CAN)
Morten Aarlia Torp (NOR)
Stein Opdahl (NOR)
Carl-Johan Johansson (SWE)
George Masin (USA)
Ian Morrison (GBR/ESP)
Michele Walker (CAN)
Kristof Linke (GER)
Andrey Chilikin (RUS)
Rudolf Laky (HUN/GER)
David Tarbotton (AUS)
Now, this site also needs your help.
As a new site, there are errors, misspellings and so on. You can help make the site better by reporting these – where you find them – by using the Feedback link at the bottom of the page.
But this is a marvelous, wonderful and enchanting site for Olympic fans, researchers and news media and well worth the long wait for its transfer to this new home. A gold medal for the OlyMADMen!