Another very famous one of Olympic symbols is the flame of the Olympic torch. The torch is a symbol of the stealing of fire from the Greek god Zeus by Prometheus and it is a symbol today of the Olympic games itself. In the days of the ancient Olympics the fire was kindled and left burning for the entire games and in those days that could be for months. Today we use the same symbol as the ancients did as we light the fire from the opening ceremonies and douse the fire at the closing ceremonies. But where does the flame come from and who made it the symbol that it has become today? The fire itself comes from a source in Olympia, Greece where the ancient Olympics were held. The flame is started months before the opening ceremonies and then a special torch is lit and that single flame is carried from runner to runner from Olympia to wherever the games are being held. The fire itself was not brought back to the Olympics until 1928 and by then the modern Olympics had been going for almost 80 years. The strange thing about the symbol of the torch is that the notion of having it run from Olympia to the host city was actually a Nazi idea. Carl Diem, who was the Nazi organizer of the 1936 games, wanted a relay of the torch flame from Olympia to the stadium in Berlin to be another tool in showcasing the strength and glory of the Third Reich. Despite its origins the torch relay is still practiced today and is considered a very big deal in whatever town it comes through. Those of us that have been lucky enough to have the torch go through our town know the festival that accompanies it and marvel at the spectacle.
Olympic medals have been used as symbols of Olympic champions and the concept of a gold, silver, and bronze medal did not start to get used until 1906 in Athens. Prior to the Athens games only silver and bronze medals were awarded with winners getting various prizes including a trophy. Today it is very difficult to imagine the Olympic games without the symbols of the gold, silver, and bronze medals.