Art & Culture History

History of Olympics

In tribute to Zeus, father of the Greek divinities, the ancient Olympics was largely part of a religious event. In Olympia , the festival and games took place in the Western Peloponnese, a rural refuge . In Olympia, the Greeks who gathered to Zeus’ sanctuary shared the same faith and spoken the same language. The athletes were men from all over the Greek world who came from so far as Iberia (Spain) in the west and the Black Sea (Turkey) in the east, from every corner of the country.

In ancient times the sanctuary was named after the highest mountain of Greece, Mt. Olympus. Mt. Olympos, the home of the greatest gods and goddesses, was founded in Greek mythology.In 776 BC, the ancient Olympics started with a foot race of 600 feet, which was won by Koroibos, the cook from nearby Elis Cité. Here you can find the stadium track at Olympia. This was the only sporting event of the games for the first 13 Olympic festivals or up to 724 BC according to some literary sources. In the four years from 776 BC, over 12 centuries in Olympia were held the Games.

Contrary to literary and archaeological evidence, the games may have existed even before this date in Olympia, maybe even so early as the 10th or 9th centuries BC. The marathon was NOT a former Olympic event. The Marathon was first launched at the Modern Olympic Games of 1896, which took place in Athens, a 40-kilometer-long race from the Marathon of North East Athens to the Olympic Stadium.

This marathon honours the run by Pheidippides, an ancient “daily runner,” who brought to Sparta (a distance of 149 miles) the news about the Persian landing at the Marathon from 490 B.C. to receive assistance for the fight. Pheidippides gave the news to the Spartans the next day, according to the fifth century B.C. Greek writer Herodotus.

When the Olympic Games were held in London in 1908, the distance from the current marathon was normalised by 26 miles 385 yards or 42,195 kilometres. The distance between Windsor Castle, the start of the race and the finish line in the White City Stadium was the exact measurement. The subject of nudity at the former Olympic Games has two history. One tradition says that the first runners to launch nude in the stadium race in 720 B.C were Megara, Orsippos, and Orrhippos.

Another myth is that in the 8th century B.C. it was the Spartans which introduced nudity in a Spartan tradition to the Olympic Games. The very first registered Olympic winner, Koroibos, who won or did not win the stadium race in 776 B.C., remains unclear. It becomes rather obvious that nudity was prevalent to male contenders by the end of the 8th century.

To the modern era

While the original games took place at the Greek capital of Olympia from 776 BC to 393 AD, the return to the Olympics took 1503 years. In Athens, Greece, in 1896 the first modern Olympics were held. The Frenchman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who presented the idea in 1894, was responsible for its renaissance. His original aim was to open the new Games in 1900 in his own Paris, but representatives from 34 countries were so excited about the idea of persuading Athens to host the Games until 1896.

Olympic Torch and olympic oath

At the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, the idea of Olympic Torch or Olympic Flames opened its doors. In the old Olympic Games there was no torch relay. However, other ancient Greek sporting festivals including those hosted in Athens were also famed for its torch relays. At the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, the current Olympic Torch Relay was first set up. In 1920, the Olympic Oath was launched.

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