Greece is one of the oldest civilizations. A good number of sports started and took shape in ancient Greece. These sports are still being played up to date. The ancient Greek sports are also referred to as the ancient Olympic Games. The Greek first came up with athletic competitions. In history, these sports were practiced to mark important festivals by the Greek people during which they also honor their gods.
Usually, the ancient Greek sports took place in Olympia. Up to today, it is not clear as to where exactly these sports started. However, there are suggestions that the sport must have started in Olympia, in the beginning of 700BC where an athlete by the name Heracles won the race after which he suggested that the race takes place after every four years. This race had been held to honor their god Zeus. The race was inaccessible to women and no non Greek citizen was allowed to take part.
FactsMonk.com (2) state that Ancient Greek sports were divided into various types of games. First, there was Isthmos game that was held after every two years at a place called Isthmos of Corinth. The second type of games was referred to as Pythian Games. The type of games was staged after every four year near a place called Delphi. The last and most popular games took place at Olympia. This place is located in south western part of Greece. These games were also staged after a period of four years. Initially, games at Olympia used to one day; they were later prolonged from a one day gala of athletics and wrestling to five days. From then, the festival comprised of more than one event.
The programs of events during games at Olympia cannot be described in detail. During these games, the first day was all about making sacrifices. Approximately 100 bulls were slaughtered as a sacrifice to their gods. Those taking part in the games also made their sacrifices to the gods. On the second day of games at Olympia, major activities i.e. the foot race are staged in the stadium that is surrounded slanting banks of soil.
Squidoo (2) points out that the event at Olympia which is believed to the beginning of the modern day Olympics comprised of four kinds of races. The first one was known as stadion; this is the oldest race in which the athletes ran 192 meters. The second race was that in which the participants ran 384 meters. This was also known as the 2-stade race. Other types were long distance races that covered between 1, 344 meters and 4, 608 meters. The fourth and the last type of race at Olympia event was a medium distance of between 384 to 768 meters. However the last category of the race is performed with athletes wearing an amour. It was used to develop speed and endurance for men who were to join the army.
At the beginning of the ancient Greek sport, races were the only events during these games. The 190 meters race was the only event initially. This took place after every four years. Later on, ancient Greek Sport was improved to encompass other races and games such as wrestling, boxing and pentathlon. It is from this point that the recent days Olympic Games started to take shape. It is also important to note that by then the sport had a concept of nudity by those taking part in the race and other sport competition.
These ancient Greek sports have evolved over time into the kind of sports we see today particularly the modern day Olympics among other global competitions. For example boxing being one of the oldest sport from ancient Greek, was much more extreme and brutal than it is today. In its early days, the boxers used bear hands and also wore no cloths. Today things have changed in that the boxers wear hand gloves and other head protective gear (Squidoo, 1). Other ancient sports have also undergone transformation; they include the martial arts like sport called pankration and horse races. Similarly, the participants in these sports wore nothing unlike in these days.
Horse-racing is another ancient Greek sports, the participants were rich people who afforded horses. However, horse owners could hire riders. In the event of winning of winning the race, it is the owner of the horse that is awarded but not the rider. The olive wreath was the prize for the owner of race winning horse. Apart from horse races, the event also had chariot races. This was in two categories; a four horse and a two horse chariot races. Chariots had their separate race marked by foals. Similarly, there was a race between carts drawn by a team of two mules. This was a twelve lap race in the stadium (Squidoo, 2).
Other field other than races also took place. These include javelin-hurling, long-jumping, and discus-throwing. The discus was made from lead, iron, stone or bronze and varied in size or rather weight depending on the age of the athletes. The discus was designed in a way that at the middle, it had a thong for the athlete to hold and direct it to the correct direction.
In long jump, athletes used weights made from stone or lead to help them jump longer distances. The weights were called “halters” and were seized in front in times of ascent, then swung at the back the back and dropped at the point of descent. This was important in propelling the athletic.
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Other notable change in the ways of the ancient Greek sports is the involvement of women in the sports. In the recent past, women have been allowed to take part in sports. This was not the case in the ancient Greek sports. Apart from participation, women were not allowed to even attend these sporting events.
Olympic Games started at around 776 BC and they went on up to the year 393 AD. This makes up 292 sets of ancient Olympic Games. The games started in Olympia, where the ancient Greek sport event was held after every four years. They were initially held for one day but this was later changed to five days involving other games a part from races (Squidoo, 1). The games were in a sequence of athletic events whose participants represented their city of ancient Greek .These competitions were religious in that people used them to honor the gods.
Olympic Games were the earliest and the most valued among other ancient Greek sport festivals (Athens-Greece, 2). These games became popular at around 5th to 4th cent BC. Modernization of the games attracted criticism during the Roman regime and this led to their discontinuation Emperor Theodosius I who claimed that the games were pagan.
Olympics in ancient Greece were for national pride and for spiritual purposes. Victories in Olympics were more coveted than victories in wars. It took contestants ten months to prepare under the watchful eyes of officials. They were also required to take an oath and promise completion of the training. Initially, Olympics games comprised of races only, but later other sports events like wrestling, boxing, javelin, and long jump among others were included. At early days, the participants competed naked.
Non citizens and women were not allowed to take part attend the Olympic Games festivals. However, women had their games festival called Heraea. This was disallowed around the time Romans took over Greece. Winners of games in either festival were crowned and awarded. Males who won in Olympics were honored and given presents (Athens-Greece, 1).
In conclusion, Greece is one the world’s earliest civilization which includes the sporting events that constitute the present day version of the Olympic Games. The ancient Greek sports had a great national and spiritual significance to the people of Greece. There were a number games festivals, key among them was the Olympia games that were held after every four years. The events initially included races only, but later other games e.g. boxing, wrestling, long jump, discus among others were invented. This marked the beginning of Olympic Games way back in 776 BC at Olympia.