Ancient Olympic Fun Fact 11

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:

You could die during competition and still win.

In the pankration event, a participant won by forcing his opponent to submit, which the losing fighter signaled by raising the index finger. During one Olympic finals, a pankratist named Arrhichion of Phigalia wound up locked in a chokehold. Desperate to loosen it, Arrhichion broke his opponent’s toe (some records say his ankle), causing such pain the man signaled defeat. As the referee raised Arrhichion’s hand in victory, it was discovered that he had died from the chokehold. His body was crowned with the olive wreath and taken back to Phigaleia as a hero.

Talk about giving your all..

Tune in next week for more about the ancient Olympics!

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