Google has unveiled a set of four new ‘doodles’ with Victorian athletes standing in for letters on its homepage today, in celebration of the 120th anniversary of the first running of the 'modern' Olympic Games.
The four different images all represent different sporting events – running, weightlifting, bench and shot-put - which took place at the games in Athens in 1896, from which the modern Olympics traces its history. The Google homepage cycles through the four different doodles each time you refresh.
There was a limited choice of sports for Google doodler Olivia Huynh to choose from, as the Olympics back then included just nine different sports (compared to 26 in today’s summer Olympics); athletics, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, swimming, tennis, weightlifting and wrestling.
Different permutations of these nine sports translated into 43 different events, but it was the marathon that became the biggest and most popular event — it also held the record for the greatest number of international athletes competing in one race.
Spyridon “Spyro” Louis, the only Greek champion in the athletics division that year, won the marathon and became a national hero. Louis took the lead 4km from the finish line, and 100,000 spectators cheered him home.
"His monumental victory on that historic day continues to inspire Greek pride," Google says on its explainer page.
German Herman Weingarthner was the biggest winner, taking home a haul of six medals (three gold, two silver and a bronze) in gymnastics. Another German, Alfred Flatow, won another three golds and a silver.Frenchman Paul Masson took three golds in track cycling, while Thomas Burke, from the US, won the 100m sprint in an impressive 12 seconds.
Athens was chosen for the location of the first modern Olympics - officially called the Games of the First Olympiad - because Ancient Greece was the location of an ancient iteration of the Olympic Games.
The very first Google Doodle appeared in 1998 and featured a reference to the Burning Man festival that Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were attending. Doodles are now a regular feature on the search engine's homepage and illustrate a range of special events, occasions and anniversaries.