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Olympics History: Discover the Origins and Evolution of the Olympic Games

The Olympic games, which take place every fourth year, are one of those events that unite the whole world. The international multi-sport event always has a way of capturing our attention, even when it comes to sports that we normally couldn’t care less about. Well, wouldn’t it be interesting to delve into the beginning of this popular event? That’s what this article is all about.

Where it all started from

Although different countries now host the Olympic games, they were originally a Greek invention that started around 776 BC. Greek athletes from as far away as the Black Sea (Turkey) in the east and Iberia (Spain) in the west participated in ancient sports. 

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The original Olympic Games were a part of a religious festival to commemorate Zeus; Zeus is the father of the Greek gods and goddesses.

The name wasn’t random

The name of the games came from the site called Olympia. Located in the western Peloponnesos, this site was the rural sanctuary of Zeus, where people with the same religious beliefs and language gathered for different events. 

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The site itself was named after Mount Olympos, the highest mountain in mainland Greece. According to Greek mythology, this mountain was the home of the most powerful Greek gods and goddesses. Talk about religious entertainment.

The games and the prizes

In the 776 BC games, a cook from the city of Elis, Koroibos, won the stadion race, which was a 600-feet foot race. Surprisingly, the stadion race was the only athletic event until around 724 BC.

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The prizes for these early events at Olympia were probably tripods. A series of bronze tripods found at Olympia could have been prizes—we just wish we knew if there were gold and silver prizes, too.

Notable highlights of the ancient games

While some people say that marathons were a part of the ancient games, records show that they were not. Although the festival included a 5-day program by the 5th century BC, marathons weren’t included as additional athletic events were added.

Courtesy: Ancient Origins

Another interesting aspect of the Greek Olympic games is the nudity tradition. Although we don’t know if the first race winners had shorts on, it was recorded that nudity was common for male contestants by the late 8th century. 

A very much welcome revival

After many centuries of holding the games every fourth year, the games ceased in Greece for 1503 years before they were revived. A Frenchman named Baron Pierre de Coubertin suggested the return of the games in 1894.

Courtesy: Britannica

Although he proposed to start the modern games in Paris in 1900, delegates from 34 countries loved the concept so much that they persuaded him to move up the games to 1896 and let it hold in Athens. So, the first modern Olympics was held in Athens, Greece, in 1896.

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