Ancient Olympic Fun Fact 1

Happy new year! I’m a bit tardy in my new year’s greetings, but 2011 closed with a time-consuming termite problem so I hope you’ll accept that as an excuse. Anyway, 2012 is significant in that it is a presidential election year, a leap year, and a summer Olympic year! The modern Olympics, of course, were inspired by the ancient Greek Olympics, a subject I’ve been researching for my work in progress. So in these months leading up to the 2012 London Games, I’ll be posting weekly tidbits about the original athletic festival that started it all.

So to start off, here’s this week’s fun fact:

The very first Olympiad consisted of one event.

The track at Olympia

The track at Olympia

Yup, one. In contrast to the seemingly endless list of sports in the modern-day Olympics, the first Games consisted of the stade-race, a 600-foot sprint. About a half century later, they added a second event (the two-stadia race), and as time went on (and the Games grew in popularity), other events were added and sometimes discontinued. But the men’s stade-race was the only event featured in every single Olympiad. It had such significance that Olympiads were named after the winner of the event. So, for example, if Leonidas won the stade-race a certain year, that particular Olympiad would be referred to as the Olympiad of Leonidas.

How’s that for motivation to win the race? 🙂

Tune in next week for more about the ancient Olympics!

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