Thursday, 11 August 2016

How the Olympics came to be

From 776 bc to 2016 these amazing games have been profiling the best sportsmen in the world. The main event at the Olympics was not a sporting event, but a sacrifice. On the third day of the games, 100 oxen were sacrificed and burnt on the Altar of Zeus. This altar was not made from stone. Instead it was made from the leftover ash of all the sacrificed oxen. By around 200 AD, the mound of ash stood six meters high! Read on for more information.

The Olympic Games began over 2,700 years ago in Olympia, in south west Greece. Every four years, around 50,000 people came from all over the Greek world to watch and take part. The ancient games were also a religious festival, held in honour of Zeus, the king of the gods. There were no Gold, Silver or bronze medals. Winners were awarded crowns of sacred olive branchs and a hero's welcome back home.

Running was the first event to be included in the Olympic Games. Athletes ran up and down a 192 metre track in the stadium. Before the race, the competitors lined up along a stone starting block. If anyone tried to get a head start, they were disqualified and beaten for cheating. The toughest running race is called Hoplitodromos In this event, runners competed wearing armour and carrying a shield. These could weigh up to 25kg!

Before the games could begin, messengers were sent out to announce a ‘sacred truce’ or a peace. This meant that any wars should be called off so the people could travel safely to Olympia. Back then only men, boys and unmarried girls were allowed to attend the Olympic Games. Married women were barred. If they were caught sneaking in as punishment they would get thrown off the side of a mountain! However, women could still own horses in the chariot races at the Olympics and unmarried women had their festival at Olympia every four years. This was called the Heraia and was held in honour of Hera, Zeus's wife. Winners were awarded crowns of sacred olive branches, the same as men. But in ancient Greece, only Spartan women were really interested in sport.

But this is the year 2016 where either men or women are allowed to compete and more activities have been played. Before only 10-15 people competed, but now there are 204 countries competing and over 11,000 people.

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