11 countries from South America went to London this year to compete in 2012 Olympiad. Out of those countries only three have won medals so far: Brazil with the count of 6, Colombia with 3 and Venezuela with 1. The total of 10 medals is well below that of the United States which as of this writing holds 43. But as we all might think, the Olympics is not just about the medal count, it’s about the coming together of athletes from around the globe in the spirit of goodwill and performing at their best in a clean fight (at least that’s the premise).
Although their medal count maybe not as impressive, the South Americans have a long history of participation in the Olympic Games. So after doing a bit of research here are some interesting facts I came up with, past to present:
- prior to 1951, red ring of the Olympic flag was regarded as a representation of the American continent (both North and South)
- no South American country has ever hosted Olympic Games; this is about to change when Brazil will be the host in 2016, the XXXI in modern history
- in the first Olympiad in 1896 held in Athens, Greece only one South American country participated, Chile; however the participation of their only athlete, Luis Subercaseaux has been disputed as he has not been mentioned by IOC
- the first officially recognized and documented South American athlete to participate in the Olympic Games was Argentine Eduardo Carnet who took 5th place in fencing during II Olympiad held in Paris in 1900
- the first Olympic gold medal won by a South American athlete belongs to a Brazilian, Guilherme Paraense who won a shooting competition in 1920 in Atwerp, Belgium
- 1924 Paris, Uruguay appears in the Olympics for the first time and wins gold in football; Argentina wins gold in polo
- in 1928, during the IX Olympiad in Amsterdam, Holland, Coca-Cola makes its debut as a commercial Olympic sponsor, a role which it has played to this day (with its special cocaine-free coca leaves imported from Peru and Bolivia)
- In 1936 Bolivia made its debut in the XI Olympiad in Berlin, one man participated
- in 1968, Paraguay made its first appearance in the XIX Olympiad held in Mexico City; it was also a first time the Olympics were held in Latin American country
- 5 South American countries, lined up behind the US president Jimmy Carter boycotted the now famous 1980 Olympics in Moscow in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
- in 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Jefferson Perez wins the gold in 20 km race walking and the first medal for Ecuador
- 2004 Olympics in Greece prove to be the best yet for the South American countries, collectively they won 9 medals including Argentine basketball win of gold
- in October 2009, it was announced that Brazil will be the 2016 host of the XXXI Olympiad and Rio de Janeiro the host city; below is the official logo of the Games
It may be a little early to start planning the trip for 2016 but it’s never too late for a little reconnaissance of Brazil. For some trip ideas visit our website and take a look at what Brazil has to offer.