Friday, May 20, 2016

The Earliest Olympic Sports

For the first 13 Olympics there was only one event, the stadion race, which was a running race up one length of the stadium. How long this race was is a matter for speculation, as the ancient stadium, 192 meters long, visible at Olympia now, did not exist then.


In 724 BC a longer, there-and-back race, the diaulos, was introduced, followed four years later by the long-distance race, the dolichos, a race of perhaps 12 laps. The emphasis on running in the early years of the Olympics may reflect the perceived basic requirements for a fit soldier.
Boxing, wrestling, and the pancration (the 'all-power' race, combining all types of physical attack) soon followed, along with the pentathlon, and horse-and-chariot racing. A race while wearing armour was introduced in 520 BC, and even a mule race (in 500 BC, but it was not generally popular). Therefore, it is evident that the Olympic Games were evolving continuously; nevertheless, some of the modern sports introduced into the modern Games do not follow the ancient model and tradition.


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