Friday 24 March 2017, 11:26:40
The Olympic Games is a major international event of summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes compete in a wide variety of events. The Games are currently held every four years, with Summer and Winter Olympic Games alternating.
Originally, the ancient Olympic Games were held in Olympia, Greece, from the 8th century BC to the 5th century AD. The Ancient Olympic Games was held as a series of competitions held between representatives of several city-states from Ancient Greece, which featured mainly athletic but also combat and chariot racing events. The origin of these Olympics is shrouded in mystery and one of the most popular myths identifies Heracles and his father Zeus as the progenitors of the Games. According to legend, it was Heracles who first called the Games "Olympic" and established the custom of holding them every four years.
A legend persists that after Heracles completed his twelve labors, he built the Olympic stadium as an honor to Zeus. Following its completion, he walked in a straight line for 200 steps and called this distance a "stadion" which later became a unit of distance. The most widely accepted date for the inception of the Ancient Olympics is 776 BC; this is based on inscriptions, found at Olympia, of the winners of a footrace held every four years starting in 776 BC. The Ancient Games featured running events, a pentathlon (consisting of a jumping event, discus and javelin throws, a foot race and wrestling), boxing, wrestling, and equestrian events. Tradition has it that Coroebus, a cook from the city of Elis, was the first Olympic champion.
The Olympics were of significant religious importance, featuring sporting events alongside ritual sacrifices honoring both Zeus (whose famous statue by Phidias stood in his temple at Olympia) and Pelops, divine hero and mythical king of Olympia. Pelops was famous for his chariot race with King Oenomaus of Pisatis. The winners of the events were admired and immortalized in poems and statues. The Games were part of a cycle known as the Panhellenic Games and were held every four years. This period, known as an Olympiad, was used by Greeks as one of their units of time measurement.