Ask Sports

Ask sports: When did women’s wrestling enter the Olympics?

When did women’s wrestling enter the Olympics? What are the oldest and newest events of the Olympics?

While women’s boxing made its Olympic debut this year, this is the third Olympic program to include women’s wrestling.

Since its debut in 2004 women’s wrestling has four weight classes, all in freestyle, as opposed to the seven on the men’s side in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman.

Prior to the London Games, no American woman had won a wrestling gold medal, with Sara McMann’s silver in the middleweight division in Athens being the best finish. Randi Miller, who wrestled at Neosho County Community College, won a bronze medal as a middleweight in Beijing.

The only sports that have appeared in every Olympics since the modern games began in 1896 are cycling, fencing, gymnastics, swimming and track and field. The newest sports introduced are BMX racing (2008), taekwondo (2000), triathlon (2000) and trampoline (2000, but technically a discipline of gymnastics, not a sport unto itself).

Other than baseball and softball, some other sports discontinued from the Olympics are polo (last contested in 1936), croquet (1900) and the ever-popular tug of war, which had a good run from 1900 through 1920.

What is the name of the Olympic theme? Did someone famous write it?

Excluding the official “ Olympic Hymn,” which is usually heard during the Opening Ceremony and not much else, there musical piece that most Americans would associate with the Olympics is titled “ Bugler’s Dream,” which was written by Leo Arnaud.

This is the piece made famous by ABC when it televised the Olympics beginning in 1964. It starts with timpani and then goes into the familiar brass fanfare.

What you hear on NBC now is actually a second piece, which begins with Arnaud’s melody. The official title of this composition is called “ Olympic Fanfare and Theme” written by a composer most people are familiar with — John Williams, of “Star Wars,” and “Jaws” fame.

Williams wrote his piece for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and it’s been a staple ever since, especially for NBC, which didn’t use the familiar “Bugler’s Dream” in its first Summer Olympics broadcast of 1988, trying to get out of the massive shadow from ABC’s Olympic telecasts.

NBC used “Bugler’s Dream” in 1992 and have added multiple Williams’ pieces to the rotation. It’s a safe bet you’ll hear Williams for at least the next eight years as NBC won the TV contract for the next four Summer and Winter Games through 2020.

Is this really the XXX Summer Games? What does that mean exactly?

The official title of the London Olympics is actually the Games of the XXX Olympiad, which is not exactly the same as the XXX Summer Games, which also isn’t x-rated, despite how it looks on the cable program guide.

An Olympiad is a period of four years that was initially set up by the Greeks in Ancient times and then revived by the modern Olympic movement in 1896. This is the 30th Olympiad since those games. They are not, however, the 30th Summer Games, as the games have been canceled three times due to World War I and II. The IOC keeps counting the Olympiads, not the actual games.

Of course, in the Winter Games the naming convention is different. They began in 1924. The next edition, to be held in Sochi, Russia in 2014, will officially be the XXII Olympic Winter Games. The IOC actually counts the number of times the Winter Olympics have been held — ignoring the two missed for World War II — not the Olympiads.

Joshua Wood