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London Olympic Games, 1908

The 1908 Games were first scheduled to be held in Rome, however the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 1906 required the Games to move from Rome to London. In London there were more than 2,000 competitors in over 100 events.


start of the 400m at the London 1908 OLympic Games The start of the 400m at the London 1908 Olympic Games (image source: Les Sports Modernes)

1908 Marathon

During the first several modern Olympics, the marathon was always an approximate distance. In 1908, the British royal family requested that the marathon start at the Windsor Castle so that the royal children could witness its start. The distance from the Windsor Castle to the Olympic Stadium was 42,195 meters (or 26 miles and 385 yards). This later became the standardized length of a marathon (more about the Olympic marathon).

There was controversy in this event, which is not uncommon for the Olympic marathon, as Italian Dorando Pietri needed to be helped across the finish line of the marathon. He was initially declared the winner before later being disqualified in favor of Johnny Hayes of the USA.

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Olympics Extra

The next Olympics will be in Paris 2024, followed by the Winter edition in Milan-Cortina 2026. Check out the list of Olympic Games sports, as well as discontinued and demonstration sports.

Major Events Extra

The largest sporting event in the world is the Olympic Games, but there are many other multi-sport games. In terms of single sport events, nothing beats the FIFA World Cup. To see what's coming up, check out the calendar of major sporting events.

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