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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Edwin Flack’s Diary of the First Olympic Games

Edwin Flack's Diary of the First Olympic Games

Edwin Flack’s Diary of the First Olympic Games

Edwin Flack’s Diary of the First Olympic Games includes entries covering his historic wins in the first 800m and 1500m events in the first modern Olympics in 1896 in Athens, Greece. Edwin Flack (1873–1935) was Australia’s first Olympian, and only representative in 1896, and the first Olympic champion in the 800 meters and the 1500 meters running events. As the Australian colonies had not yet federated, there was no Australian national anthem or uniform. Flack competed in his Melbourne Grammar School colors.

On the opening day of the Games, Flack won his first race in the first heat of the 800 meters run. On the second day, he won a first-place medal in the 1500 meters run, and on the fourth day of the Games, Flack won his second first-place medal in the 800 meters race. A day later Flack tied for a treble, in the marathon, even though he had never run or trained for the marathon distance.  Flack also competed in the tennis singles and doubles at the Athens Olympics. He placed third, but medals for third places were not yet awarded in 1896.

In 1896, a silver medal was awarded to the first-place winner 
In 1896, a silver medal was awarded to the first-place winner 

In the 1896 Summer Olympics,  first-place winners were given a silver medal, while runners-up received a copper medal. Retroactively, the IOC has converted these to gold and silver and awarded bronze medals to third-placed athletes.

Rank Nation Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 U.S. 11 7 2 20
2 Greece 10 17 19 46
3 Germany 6 5 2 13
4 France 5 4 2 11
5 Great Britain 2 3 2 7
6 Hungary 2 1 3 6
7 Austria 2 1 2 5
8 Australia 2 0 0 2
9 Denmark 1 2 3 6
10 Switzerland 1 2 0 3

Medal count in the 1896 Summer Olympics

Edwin Flack’s Diary of the First Olympic Games

  • Title:               Edwin Flack’s Diary of the First Olympic Games
  • Year:               1896
  • Medium:        Paper
  • Museum:        National Sports Museum

Highlights of the National Sports Museum

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“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part.”
– Pierre de Coubertin

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Photo Credits: 1)JOM

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