Olympics Dictionary: Breaking to Dream Team, golf to rings

ByKeith Jenkins ESPN logo
Monday, July 1, 2024

The 2024 Paris OlympicSummer Games will feature athletes from around the world competing in 17 different cities across metropolitan France and Tahiti. Teahupo'o, on the French Polynesian island of Tahiti, will host the two-day surfing competition, a mere 9,765 miles from Paris. What other facts should fans know ahead of this year's event? Check out this A-Z Olympics guide.


Athens: The site of the first modern Olympics in 1896.


Breaking: A form of dance originated within hip-hop culture in the 1970s that will make its Olympic debut.


Curling: a competition typically held during the Winter Olympics where contestants launch a 40-plus-pound granite stone down a sheet of ice at a specific target. The name comes from the unique turning that happens at the end of the stone's path on the ice.


Dream Team: Commonly referred to as the best basketball team ever assembled; the 1992 U.S. men's basketball team, led by Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley and others, won gold at the Barcelona Olympics. The team defeated its opponents by an average of more than 40 points en route to beating Croatia in the final.


Elaine: Hailing from Jamaica, Elaine Thompson-Herah is the two-time defending gold medalist in the 100 meters and looks to join fellow JamaicanUsain Bolt as the only man or woman to win the event three times.


France: The French men's basketball team looks to become only the second host nation to win the gold medal. Team USA did it twice in 1984 (Los Angeles) and 1996 (Atlanta).


Golf: While a popular competition worldwide for generations, golf didn't become a fixture in the Olympics until the 2016 Rio Games. Prior to 2016, the event was featured in the Olympics only twice -- 1900 and 1904.


Handball: A fast-paced sport where players use their hands to pass and throw a ball into the opposing team's goal, handball first was introduced as part of the 1936 Berlin Olympics as field handball. The indoor version was first featured at the 1972 Munich Games.


Icho: Japanese wrestler Kaori Icho is the only woman to win an individual-event gold medal in four consecutive Olympic Games.


Judo: Frenchman Teddy Riner is the most decorated judoka in the history of the Olympic Games, winning five total medals, including gold in the men's heavyweight division at the 2012 London Olympics, 2016 Rio Olympics and 2020 Tokyo Olympics.


Kayak cross: A combination of all of canoeing's whitewater disciplines -- contested by four competitors simultaneously -- that will make its Olympic debut at the 2024 Paris Olympics.


Ledecky: American swimmer Katie Ledecky looks to become the winningest U.S. female Olympian of all time, in terms of total medals won and gold medals won. Ledecky, who enters the 2024 Paris Olympics with 10 total medals and seven golds, would need to win three medals (with two of them being gold) to claim each distinction.


Mexico City: After the 200-meter race at the 1968 Mexico City Games, U.S. track stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who had won gold and bronze, respectively, raised their fists while standing on the podium, a gesture symbolizing Black power and the larger human rights movement. The image sparked attention and a global conversation, and has since become an iconic moment in world history.


Nine: The estimated cost of the 2024 Summer Games is $9 billion.


Owens: American track and field athlete Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Owens helped the U.S. set a world record of 39.8 seconds in the 4x100-meter relay.


Painting: A part of the Olympics until the 1948 London Games, when the International Olympic Committee concluded art competitions didn't reflect the amateur status of the Games, since almost all contestants were professionals. A non-competitive art and cultural festival is now associated with each Olympics.


Qualification: The process by which athletes and teams earn the right to compete in the Olympic Games. An estimated 10,500 athletes are set to participate at the 2024 Paris Olympics, up 340% from the 3,089 who participated at the last Paris Games in 1924.


Rings: The Olympic logo of five interlocking rings represents the unity of the five inhabited continents (Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania) and the athletes from around the world.


Seven: Consecutive Summer Games that Team USA has won the most medals of any country. The last time the U.S. didn't earn the most medals was in Barcelona in 1992 (the Unified Team of the former Soviet Union finished first).


Three: Number of times Paris has hosted the Summer Olympics (1900, 1924 and 2024)


Usain: Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt captivated the world at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, breaking three world records and winning three gold medals (100 meters, 200 meters and 4x100-meter relay).


Vera: Gymnast Vera Caslavska, of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, is the last repeat gold medalist in the individual women's all-around in 1964 and 1968. American Suni Lee looks to defend her 2020 gold medal at the 2024 Paris Olympics.


Warriors: Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr is next in line to lead the U.S. men's basketball team at the Olympics. Kerr looks to become the fifth coach to win an NBA title and an Olympic gold medal, joining Gregg Popovich (2020), Rudy Tomjanovich (2000), Lenny Wilkens (1996) and Chuck Daly (1992).


Xiaopeng: One of China's most successful gymnasts of all time, Li Xiaopeng has won five total medals, including four gold. He won gold medals in the men's parallel bars and men's team all-around in both the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


Youth Olympics: Held for athletes between the ages of 15 and 18, the fourth edition of the Summer Youth Olympic Games will take place in Dakar, Senegal, in 2026.


Zero: The number of Olympic gold medals won by Novak Djokovic. Of the men's and women's tennis players in the Open era to win at least 20 Grand Slam titles, Djokovic is the only one never to win gold at the Olympic Games in either singles or doubles play.

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