Τhe Panathenaic Stadium
In ancient times, it was used to host the Panathenaic Games, in honour of the Goddess Athena. A wealthy businessman George Averoff agreed to pay for the restoration of the Panathinaiko Stadium, which would eventually cost 920,000 drachmas. As a tribute to his generosity, a statue of Averoff was constructed and unveiled on 5 April outside of the stadium, where it still stands.
James Brendan Connolly, became the first Olympic champion of the modern era on the first day of the Games, winning the triple jump with a leap of 13.71 meters. Connoly later became a journalist and he died on 1951, at the age of 88.
Although the number of participating athletes was low by current standards, it had the largest international participation for any sports event to that date. In spite of the absence of many of the time's top athletes, the Games were a success with the Greek public. The concept of national teams was not a major part of the Olympic movement until the Intercalated Games ten years later, though many sources list the nationality of competitors in 1896 and give medal counts. Most sources list 13 competing nation including Greece
The hilight of the Games
Yet the most impressive story of the Games was one involving a marathon-winning from the Athens area: Spiridon Louys. Emulating the journey in 490 BC of the soldier Philippides, who ran 40km between the village of marathon and the olympic stadium in Athens to announce the victory of Greece over Persia, Louys ran the distance in 2 hours, 58 minutes and 50 seconds. Louys' triumph sent the country wild. It was just one of many eventual victories for the host country, who finished with 50 places of honor (given for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places).
A great success
Athens proved that the rebirth of the Olympic Games was a worthwhile project, and one which could be expanded in the future. Although the competition was not of the highest quality, the 1896 Olympics were considered a great success, in large part because of the enthusiasm of the Greek spectators. At the closing banquet, King George of Greece suggested that Athens should become the permanent home of the Olympic Games, but Coubertin and the IOC stuck to the original idea of holding the 1900 games in Paris.