1996 32¢ Discus Thrower
Centennial Olympic Games
Issue Date: July 19, 1996
City: Atlanta, GA
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Appropriately, the Olympic Games centennial stamp pictures the “Discus Thrower” – the king of athletes among ancient Greeks – whose purposeful action is captured in Myron’s 5th-century B.C. statue Discobolus.
Ancient Greeks believed athletic prowess pleased their gods so they held games at all religious festivals. The most celebrated games took place near Mt. Olympus, home of the god Zeus, in a stadium seating 40,000 spectators. Originally, games lasted a day; later they lasted five days. Truces were observed during these sacred days and no Greek raised a sword against another. Starting in 776 B.C., Greeks began measuring time in Olympiads, the four-year interval between the games. Olympic games took place for 1,900 years before being abolished by Theodosius I in A.D. 394.
Pierre de Coubertin, a French advocate of physical education, was thrilled when German archaeologists discovered the Mt. Olympus ruins in 1875. Believing sports would promote world peace, Coubertin championed the formation of modern Olympic games. The first were held in Athens in 1896 where 285 athletes, representing 13 nations, competed in 42 events. In 1996, 11,000 athletes from 197 nations competed in hundreds of events at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta.