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Do You Know Where These Popular Sports Terms Come From?

The Tokyo Olympics 2020 is currently underway and we are sure you must be having a great time relishing the superhuman feats of the amazing athletes appearing at the grand sporting event. Touted as the greatest sporting spectacle in the world, the Olympic Games originated in ancient Greece more than 3,000 years ago and were later revived in the late 19th century.
The first modern Olympics were held in 1896 in Athens, Greece, and featured 43 events. The current one has 33 sports and a whopping 339 medal events! When we talk about the various events in the Olympics, you think of the marathon, gymnastics, javelin throw, or hockey, among others. But while you have been using these popular sports words all the time, do you know where they come from?
Today, we will discuss the origins of some common Olympic words. We bet you will be surprised to find out the fascinating history of some of these wonderful sports words.

1. Olympics

Origins of Olympic Words, Olympics
First, let’s get a little background on the word Olympic itself. It is in reference to a place in ancient Greece named Olympia – a town in Elis in ancient Greece with a famous temple of Zeus where athletic contests in honor of the Greek god were held from 776 BC and every four years thereafter. 
The original Greek word was Ολυμπιακός (olimpiakos), meaning 'from Olympia or Olympus'. The word Olympics first made its way into the English language in the late 16th century through Latin.
Did you know that the Olympic flame starts its journey from Olympia and travels all around the world to make it to the hosting country?

2. Marathon

Origins of Olympic Words, Marathon
While footraces were a main event of the ancient Greeks, they didn’t run marathons in their Olympics. The marathon was only included when the Olympic Games were revived in 1896. 
The word marathon comes from Μαραθώνας (Marathonas) a town in Greece. According to Greek lore, during the Battle of Marathon which took place in 490 BC between Greece and the invading Persian army, Greek hero Pheidippides ran for 26 miles (41.8 km) to Athens from the Plains of Marathon with news of Greece’s victory in the battle. Once he delivered the message, he lost his breath and died. His incredible feat, however, lived on in the word marathon. 
The word was extended to mean "any very long event or activity." 

3. Water Polo

Origins of Olympic Words, Water Polo
In its original form, polo was basically field hockey played on horseback. In the modern Olympics, though, polo is played as a water sport where two teams compete to throw the ball into their opponent's goal in a swimming pool. The sport of water polo was added to the Games in 1900.
The sport originated in Great Britain in the 1870s and was originally called “football-in-the-water". It was named water polo in 1876 and is based on the English pronunciation of the Balti (Tibetan language of Kashmir) word pulu which means ‘ball’.

4. Fencing

Origins of Olympic Words, Fencing
Fencing is basically a shortened form of the word defense or the Latin word “defensa”, which means “protection”. The sport is described as the "art of using a sword or foil in attack and defense". 
The word defensa was transformed into “defens” when it moved into Old French and during the 15th century, the English shortened it to “fens”. The term could be spelled with either an “s” and a “c” and was hence modified to 'fencing' later on.
The sport was introduced in the modern Olympics in 1896 and has been on the program of the competition ever since.

5. Javelin

Origins of Olympic Words, Javelin
The ancient Greek Olympic Games featured javelin as a part of their athletics ceremonies but was referred to as akon or akontion then. Interestingly, though, the word javelin doesn’t come from Greek and is believed to have entered English in the 1500s from the Middle French word javelot meaning “a spear”. Linguists say that the word may be based on older words for pointed throwing weapons like the Celtic gablākos, which means a spear with a fork-like head.
The javelin throw is a track and field event in the Olympics where the javelin is thrown as far as possible.

6. Discus

Origins of Olympic Words,  Discus
The discus throw is another event that was part of the original Greek Olympic Games. The word discus comes from the Greek word dískos, meaning “disk” and the Latin word discus. Both diskos and discus meant “round, flat objects”. As you might be aware, discus throw involves throwing a disk-shaped object from a circle to a sector marked on the ground from the center of the circle.

7. Trampoline

Origins of Olympic Words, Trampoline
Do you know that trampolining is a sport in the Olympics? It made its Olympic debut at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney for men's and women's individual competitions. Today, you can get to see synchronized trampoline, double mini-trampoline (DMT), and tumbling in addition to the individual trampoline events in the Games.
The word trampoline entered the English language in the 1790s and is derived from Spanish trampolin meaning "springboard” and Italian trampolino, meaning "stilts". The further origin of the word is a little unclear but linguists believe that it might be related to the English word tramp, meaning "to stamp".

8. Hockey

Origins of Olympic Words, Hockey
The word hockey is related to the Middle French word hoquet representing a shepherd’s staff or stick. It can also be a diminutive of the Old French word hoc, meaning "hook". As you might know, hockey is played with hooked clubs and they do resemble shepherds' staves.
Field hockey was first played in the Olympic Games in 1908 in London and featured six teams. 

9. Gymnastics

Origins of Olympic Words,  Gymnastics
Gymnastics is widely regarded as the most difficult sport on the planet, both mentally and physically. Men's gymnastics was a part of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and the Olympic gymnastics competition for women began in 1936.
The word gymnastics originates from the Latin gymnasticus ("pertaining to athletic exercise") as well as the Greek words gymnastikos ("fond of or skilled in bodily exercise”) and gymnazein ("to exercise or train").

10. Judo

Origins of Olympic Words, Judo
Judo is a Japanese term that literally translates to "gentle way". However, the word is compounded of Ju meaning “softness or gentleness” and Do, meaning “standing for art or way”. Judo is a refined form of ju-jitsu that was introduced in 1882 by Dr. Jigoro Kano, a Japanese educator and athlete. It applies principles of movement and balance and is practiced as a sport or form of physical exercise. 
Judo first appeared in the Olympics in the 1964 Games in Tokyo, Japan. While it wasn’t included in the 1968 event, judo has remained an integral part of the Games since 1972.
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