Ancient Olympic Fun Fact 25

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:

Footraces began with a standing start.

Starting Sill

This stone sill is what the ancients used as a starting block. Runners would stand, their arms stretched forward, with one foot in front of the other and their toes gripping the grooves in the stone, as they awaited the signal to start.

Thanks to the archaeologists that unearthed the Olympic grounds, tourists can stand on the blocks ancient competitors once used, and they do. When we toured the site, some Greek schoolkids on a field trip were running races starting from those very blocks.

Tune in next week for more about the ancient Olympics!

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