Olympics now and then

By Sergio González | 13:28


Olympic flame ceremony 2012

Origins. From Olympia 776 BC to London 2012

Several classical historians tried to put togheter lost stories of the first gods running and wrestling each other to be claimed master of Mount Olympus but the way Olympic Games came to life was even obscure to ancient Greeks.

Until 776 BC, the year the Oracle of Delphi spoke. The times were troubled with war and plague and the call to peace and traditionalism -to regain Zeus favor- sent from the guesser in the Apollo sanctuary remained as the main fable.

The games would have continued to be celebrated and worshipped by the Olympians until the Christian Emperor of Rome banned them 12 centuries later. Theodosio was determined to reunite the scattered empire by religion uniformity so in 394 AD he named them pagan and erased its history until 1896.

Olympic Sports. Why baseball is not?

For many years, Stadion was the only competition. A race of a stadium -a masure system that ranges from 600 to 800 ft. according to archaelogical data. To get in, the contestants had to swear under the image of Zeus to have trained for 10 months.

Over the next decades, two more races were added extending the distance to beat, diaulos and dolichos. This last was a sort of marathon where the track lays through the country-side. Two centuries would still have to pass before Pheidippides would run 26 miles from Athens to Sparta asking for help during the Battle of Marathon and 25 more until it became an olympic race.

IOC criteria to include or put out sports into the Olympic Heaven relys on how widely it’s practised throughout the world -artificial propulsion excluded. The standard goes down regarding winter sports and women competition -since much fewer countries attend- but the general requirement is for them to be played massively in every continent.

Nevertheless, the IOC has decided to set the maximum of 28 Olympic sports. For London 2012, baseball and softball were taken out, so just 26. For Rio 2016, rugby and golf will be considered be olympic sports.


Outside Old Trafford during London 2012

Common facts

Grecian culture didn’t meet the puristanist restraints of Christianism until its end so athletes competed entirely naked . Some oil would cover fighters to unease grasping and a leather lacet would tie male parts to the belly for runners’ shake but beyond that, Greeks praised their Olympic Gods dressed as their deities created them.

Our games have seen a huge revolution regarding outfits. From long dresses to play tennis in the 20’s -be careful not to show your brazen anklet- to shark skin or golf ball inspired swimsuits. But it seems we are going back to competing with our bare bodies, after London’s 2012 ban on high-tech suits.

Greek society at that time was male centered and women -outcasted from public life- were not allowed into the plains of Olympia. The penalty for a married woman found in the stadium was her being thrown from Typaion Cliffs. With the exception of Sparta -where strong women were supposed to breed harder warriors and so Spartan girls trained along boys- no encouragement was made for women to be fit.

Around 6th century BC, Greek society became less sexist due to ceaceless protests. Races dedicated to Dyonisus and Hera started to be held exclusively for woman -and for the marriageable male audience.

In the first games of Modern Era they could enter Phanatinakos Stadium but as mere spectators -Coubertain and the Victorians still thought gender contact would be harmful for male perfomance.

Paris 1900 would be the first time for women to glow in the Olympics. However, a greek mother looking for a job had run the marathon in 1896 willing to feed her children with the prize.

In order to compete in Olympia you had te be a free man and speak Greek but not necessarily a sports person -the first winner of Olympic Games was a baker. Nowadays, the only concern for IOC is double nationality and waiting times -they only care for athletes who want to compete for more than one nation whitin less than 3 years.

Photo Credit: Manu

Photo Credit: daniel.richardson0685






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