Ancient Olympic Fun Fact 29

The 2012 London Games are starting in two weeks, can you believe it?! And I just found out my cousin and his wife are going (I’m jealous), plus they’re staying with my other cousin who’s currently on assignment in London so they don’t have to pay through the nose for lodging (double jealous).

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Here’s this week’s fun fact about the ancient Greek Olympics:

Hand weights were used in the long jump.

The long jump looked very different compared to the modern version. Instead of a running start, jumpers began from a standing position holding weights called halteres. They’d swing these back and forth and then simultaneously jump and throw the weights, coordinating the motion such that it propelled them forward. Often pipers played an accompaniment, possibly to help with the timing of the jump/weight throwing.

Stone halter

Early halteres were flat and made of stone or metal. Over time, the design changed, and jumpers used cylindrical stone weights with finger grooves.

Tune in next week for more about the ancient Olympics!


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