In 776 B.C., a new era began for athletes. The first Olympic Games were held in Olympia, Greece. The Olympic Games we have come to watch today are only part of what the first Olympic Games used to be. In the ancient games people also competed in poetry, mathematics, architecture and sculpture. At the first Olympic Games there were only foot races as sports events, but as the Olympics grew more popular events like wrestling, boxing, chariot racing, horse racing, javelin tossing, Discus throwing, and the Pankration were added. Aerial view of Olympia as it looks today.
As the games grew larger certain events were given in honor of individual Olympian gods and goddesses. The sport that most pleased Zeus, for example, was the Pankration. The Pankration was the true test of a man. It was a mixture of boxing and wrestling, and to compete you had to be good at both events. There were rules, but not many. For example, you couldn't gouge your opponent's eyes, ears, or nose with your hands, but the fighting continued until someone was unconscious. The Greeks believed it pleased the mighty Zeus that men were willing to beat themselves up just to please him. Sanctuary of Zeus, as it used to look in ancient times.
Wrestling was very brutal. The rules stated that wrestlers were not allowed to bite, slap, punch or gouge your opponents eyes, but everything else was allowed. In Boxing, the competitors didn't cover their hands and would fight until someone was unconscious. Chariot racing was simple; don't try to kill your opponent. Horseracing was like the "Kentucky Derby," except you could knock your opponents off, and it didn't matter if the riders finished. Even a rider less horse could win. Foot racing was pretty much like track is now. They ran anywhere from 1/4 of a mile to two miles in an event. This was the highest honor medal that you could earn because it has the lightning bolt of Zeus on it.
The Olympics were originally played because the Greeks...