Denmark are one of the original group of nations who competed at the first Olympic Games of the modern era in Athens in 1896.
The first Danish Olympic champion was Viggo JENSEN, who won weightlifting gold in the two-handed lift in 1896. He also took the silver in the one-handed lift and bronze in shooting (three position rifle). He placed fourth in the rope climbing competition and in the shot put.
Lars Jorgen MADSEN won his two gold medals for shooting 20 years apart. His first came at the Paris 1900 Olympic Games in the standing free rifle; in 1920 he won team gold in the military rifle.
The Danes have always done well in cycling. Henry HANSEN won individual and team gold in the road race at the Amsterdam 1928 Olympic Games but they were stricken by tragedy in 1960 when Knud JENSEN collapsed during the 100km team time trial and later died.
In both previous Olympic Games to be held in London, Denmark claimed medals in football. They lost to the host nation in the 1908 final and beat Great Britain in the play-off for bronze in 1948.
The Olympic Games of 1948 proved the most successful for Denmark. Their five gold medals all came in water sports.
Paul ELVSTROM's sailing gold was his first of four at consecutive Olympic Games. In all, he competed at eight Olympic Games, his final appearance at the age of 60 was at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games where he competed with his daughter. He remains the most impressive Danish sailor but the sport has proved the most successful at the Olympic Games for Denmark.
Pol Erik HOYER LARSEN won badminton gold in the men's singles at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. In handball, the Danish women won three consecutive gold medals from 1996–2004. Both gold medals at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games came on the water.
There was victory in the men's lightweight coxed fours and Martin KIRKERTERP and Jonas WARRER won gold in the 49er class in sailing. No Danish city has hosted the Olympic Games but Copenhagen staged the 2009 IOC Session and Congress.