The First Olympic Events Author Unknown, Adapted by Candy Mazze.
1. The initial Olympic Games were created to honor the Greek God, Zeus. The Games as we know them began in Greece in 776 B.C. They were a five-day event that occurred every four years. The Games included sporting events, celebrations, ceremonies, and certain rituals.
2. The first day of the festival was like the Opening Ceremonies we have today, but the focus was not what you would expect at today's Olympics. This day was a celebration of Zeus. Athletes and judges were to swear, on oath, to the Greek god to play fair and not tell secrets they may have heard about other athletes. The day was only for celebrations and ceremonies. The games, or sporting events, began on the second day.
3. The very first event to take place was a running race of 200 yards. This race kept going until there was only one runner left. That runner was the winner. The race was then increased to 400 yards. This event was the only one for the first thirteen games. Other events were then included. The pentathlon was a five-event "sport" that included jumping, running, discus and javelin throwing, and wrestling. A chariot race was also added to the Games as well as the separate sports of horse racing, wrestling, and running.
4. The Greek Olympic Games ended after twelve hundred years, in A.D. 394. During this time period, the five-day event had occurred 320 times. The Romans conquered Greece at that time and did not believe in Greek gods, so there was no more celebration of Zeus.
5. The Olympics started again in 1896. Our modern Olympics are now divided into two sessions- summer and winter. In the Summer Olympics, athletes compete in sports such as swimming, gymnastics, wrestling, cycling, archery, baseball, and basketball. In the Winter Olympics, there are cold-weather games, including cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, bobsled, figure skating, ski jumping, and hockey.
6. When you watch the Olympic Games today, you will still see a ritual performed similar to those ancient Games. These are nothing but the medal ceremonies. During ancient times, a laurel wreath was given to the winners. The wreath symbolized pride and success. Today, the medals given to athletes represent the same - the success of one's efforts and pride in one's sport.