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.
Here’s this week’s fun fact:
Olympic athletes competed in the nude.
The modern Olympics would look a lot different if this custom was still in effect. According to one story, athletes originally competed wearing a garment that resembled shorts, but the shorts occasionally fell mid-race, causing runners to trip. (Wardrobe malfunction!) So to solve the problem, they did away with the clothes. Others state that exercising naked was simply how the Greeks did it so for them to compete in Olympia sans clothes was normal.
A minority of athletes did wear clothes though. For the chariot races, drivers wore traditional long white robes. And some wrestlers wore tight fitting leather caps to keep their hair out of the way so – as my husband insists – they weren’t completely naked. (But I doubt that argument would fly with the local police if you decided to go out wearing a hat and nothing else).
Tune in next week for more about the ancient Olympics!