The Games returned to their birthplace in 2004 when Athens hosted the Olympics once more, and fittingly, the number of nations that participated reached a record 201 to symbolize the growth of the event. It was the most-watched Olympics in history, with an estimated worldwide television audience of 3.9 billion. In a nod to the past, the original Panathenaic Stadium used in 1896 was used again for the archery competitions, while the marathon was run over the exact same course used 108 years earlier, firing off in the town of Marathon and ending in the Panathenaic Stadium.
Swimmer Michael Phelps gave a glimpse of what lay ahead in Beijing by winning six gold medals, just one short of Mark Spitz’s haul in 1972. The United States lost the basketball gold for the first time since NBA players started playing in the Olympics. A team led by Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson and LeBron James managed only a bronze medal, even losing to Puerto Rico in the group stages. Overall, though, the USA was again tops in the medal standings, winning 35 golds. But breathing down their necks were the Chinese, who bagged an unprecedented 32 golds as they began setting the stage for their own hosting four years later. (Source: Olympic.org)
Editor's Note: To celebrate the 100-day countdown to the London Games, we will be publishing 100 tidbits about the Olympics. Come back to Yahoo! PH Sports, as we publish a new tidbit every day.