History of the Olympic Games

The Olympic Games are now one of the most popular and prestigious events in the world. This popularity and prestige is due to the great connection the Olympic Games have with the mass of spectators who follow the competitions in person in the stadiums and arenas and on television. However, the history of the Olympic Games is somewhat complex. The image we have of them today dates from the late 19th century, but their origins go back to ancient Greece.

Origin of the Olympic Games

The Olympic Games originated around the 8th century BC, in the context of ancient Hellas, i.e. all the city-states of classical Greece. The games were held in the city of Olímpia, hence the name “Olympics”, where citizens from other cities wandered to compete. The first athlete to win a race in Olympia was Corobeu, in 776 BC. In mythological tradition, the Olympia games were created by the hero Hercules, son of the god Zeus with a mortal. Hercules was forced by the goddess Hera to perform twelve works considered impossible. The fifth of these works consisted of cleaning the pens of King Áugias, which contained thousands of animals and had not been cleaned for more than 30 years. This mythological explanation organized the understanding that Olympic sport had at the time. Whenever the games were opened, there was a whole rite of animal sacrifice to Zeus and every competition had to some extent to do with the worship of this deity.

Ancient sporting methods

Among the sports played in the ancient Olympic Games were races, called drómos, and their modalities. In some of them, the athlete had to run for about 190 meters dressed in the armor and weapons of a hoplite (soldier in the front line of battle). In terms of racing, there were also chariots. The first were chariots pulled by two horses, the second by four horses. There was also the pentathlon (similar to today’s pentathlon), which comprised five sports: jumping, discus, javelin, running, and fighting.