Essay on First Olympics - The Greek Contests

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The Olympics of Ancient Greece were much different from the Olympics we know today.
When we think of an Olympic athlete it is one who has proven himself not only to be a champion in his own country, but one of world-class skill. This idea contrasts with the Ancient Olympic athlete who could only be a free man that spoke Greek. Furthermore, there were fewer events in the games of old. There wasn't any water polo, ping pong, or any other games that strayed from the basic contests. Another way the games of Ancient Greece differ from the modern games is that the ancient games were always held in the same city of Olympia. That is much different from today, as the games are held in a different country every time and nations
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It was the first event in the Olympic Program, being relatively boring and relaxing to spectators. (Swaddling, 44)

Winners of Running Events

The winners of the footraces at Olympia were held in very high reguards. The victor in the stadion race, being the most prestigious event, had the honor of naming the festival games that year. As outlined by David Young in The Olympic Myth of Greek Amateur Athletics. For centuries the winners of the stadion represented the city of Croton, Italy. (Young, 134) The most successful athlete was Astylos, who won the stade and diaulos in 488 and 484 B.C. and in 480 the stade, diaulos and hoplitodromos. (Young, 141,142) Polites of Caria was victiorious in all 3 running events in 69 A.D. (Young, 178) Dandis of Argon was a successful long-distance runner, winning 15 times in Nemean Games. (Young, 144)

Successful athletes such as these were required to train and condition much in the same way modern athletes do. Young describes the dedication to their careers as a "serious, all-engrossing business." They were coached in training and diet, and made their sport their life. (Young, 145)

The above image shows two young athletes competing in a footrace and two men observing. (Perseus)


The hoplitodromos, or race in armor, was added to the program in 520 B.C. Twenty-five competitors ran two lengths wearing a helmet and greaves, and carrying a shield. This race may have been derived for military

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