Although the modern Olympics were first held in 1896 in Athens, there were many more Olympic games held earlier referred to as the Ancient Olympics. The main sport was mainly a foot race. The number of events has since increased dramatically from the initial 43, with only 14 countries taking part in the games to over 100 events in 15 sports. The initial 241 participants have also increased to thousands of both male and female athletes. The first committee to manage the Olympics was formed in Greece since it was the place where the first ever Olympic event was held.
The Ancient Olympics
Olympics began as a religious festival to appraise the gods back in the year 776 BC. They were held in the land known as Olympia where various worship ceremonies were held in combination with some sports. The temple of a god known as Zeus was built in the Olympia town overlooking the natural and magnificent Olympia Valley. During the games, the participants displayed a combination of physical and spiritual character. It was mainly a one-day event that was held at the same venue at an interval of four years.
Myths Related to the First Olympics
During the first year of the games, various beliefs have been documented. Some are that Zeus, a god, and the founder of the human race, was to be appeased. The people had greatly believed in him as the god that made people and animals fertile as well as give victory to the people whenever they went to war.
Participants and Main Sports
Any male citizen could participate without being eliminated due to social, political, or economic class. Only single women were allowed to join in as married women were supposed to be taking care of their families. The main sports that were acceptable were mainly related to day to day activities in Ancient Greece. These involved sports developed and related to warfare such as throwing a spear, jumping up or along, plus any activity that required physical skills and stamina like track events such as running long and short races. Fist fighting, currently known as boxing, was also introduced. Racing of horses and modern day wrestling was also included. Notable participants were Astylos of Croton who won in six events, Leonidas of Rhodes who won a number of races, and Melankomas of Caria who won the boxing title
Awarding the Winners
Any person who won in an event was given leaves from a palm tree as a crown. The spectators threw beautiful flowers and olive branches to the winner. The closing ceremony was held inside Zeus place of worship.
The Evolution of the Olympics
As time went by the games included more nations and a wider range of sporting events such as cycling, swimming, chariot racing, marathon, and shooting. The modern Olympics, first held in April 1896 in Athens, saw the winners awarded with gold, bronze, and silver. Greece being the host won the highest number of medals and also the most admirable trophy in the marathon. Seven stadia were used but most of the activities took place in Panathenaic stadium.