This Olive Branch Wreath was Awarded to Australia’s first Olympic Medallist during the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. Officially known as the Games of the I Olympiad, it was the first international Olympic Games held in modern history. Reflecting the history and traditions of the Ancient Greek Olympics, these olive branches were awarded to Edwin Flack (1873–1935) Australia’s first Olympian and only representative in 1896. Flack was the first Olympic champion in the 800 metres and the 1500 metres running events. As the Australian colonies had not yet federated, there was no Australian national anthem or uniform. Flack paid his own way to Greece while working in England and he competed in his Melbourne Grammar School colours.
On the opening day of the Games, Flack won his first race in the first heat of the 800 metres run. On the second day, he won a first-place medal in the 1500 metres run, and on the fourth day of the Games, Flack won his second first-place medal in the 800 metres 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, 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.
Medal count of the 1896 Summer Olympics
- Title: First Australian Olympic Medals
- Year: 1896 Summer Olympics
- Winner: Edwin Harold “Teddy” Flack (1873 – 1935)
- Medium: Silver
- Museum: National Sports Museum
“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part.” Pierre de Coubertin
Photo Credits: 1) By Joyofmuseums (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 2) Public Domain, Link