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Olympics, then and now: Vintage pics you've gotta see

Ever wondered what the modern Olympics looked like at its inception in the nineteenth century? Or what women used wear while swimming or shooting arrows? Hop into our time machine and go way, way back in Olympic history. It’s time to go vintage!
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    Fencing at the first modern Olympic Games, held in Athens in 1896. Two hundred forty one athletes participated, which is a less than half of the 2012 U.S. delegation currently on their way to London. Fourteen nations participated in the event, which lasted only nine days but was hailed as the most successful international sporting event ever.

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    The Games of the XXX Olympiad will last 17 days. More than 200 countries are sending roughly 10,500 athletes to compete in over 300 sports. London is spending more than £9 billion in preparation for the Games.

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    In 1968, hurdler Norma Enriqueta Basilio of Mexico became the first woman to light the Olympic cauldron flame during the Mexico City games. To date, only seven women have done so.

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    This year, the Olympic torch was lit by an actress dressed as a high priestess in an elaborate ceremony held inside the Temple of Hera, which stands on the ruins of the home of the ancient Olympic Games. Talk about a reenactment!

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    This photo, taken before the 1932 Summer Games in Los Angeles, shows three-time gold medalist Helene Madison teaching four girls how to swim.  During her career, she broke more than a dozen world records.

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    During the last Summer Olympic Games, swimmer Natalie Coughlin became the first American woman to win six medals in a single Olympics. This year, she returns to the Games in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay, an event in which she (and Helene Madison, in 1932) won gold four years ago.

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    Women archers remove arrows from targets at the 1908 Olympic Games, held in London. Twenty-two sports were offered, including jeu de paume, or what we now know as tennis, and tug of war.

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    Veteran Olympian Allison Williamson of the U.K. wields her bow in the 2008 Beijing Games. She is the first British archer to win an Olympic medal since 1908—the year of the previous photo in this slideshow. This year’s London Games will be her sixth Olympic bid.

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    Fanny Blankers-Koen of the Netherlands won four gold medals in the 1948 Games in London.  And when she won those medals, she was a 30-year-old mother of two tots. Folks called her “the Flying Housewife.”

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    Lolo Jones came into the 2008 Beijing games a favorite to win the 100-meter hurdles. In the final, she was pulling away from the pack when she tripped. She finished out of the medals in 7th place, but returns to the Games this year in the same event.

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BY BRITTANY TAYLOR ON 7/17/2012 3:33:00 PM

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