After all the summer excitement brought to you by the Olympics, closely followed by the Paralympics, we thought it might be a good time to bring you up to speed as to how the Games came about. Are you ready for a journey back in time?
The Ancient Olympic Games were a series of competitions between the Greek cities, held in Olympia in honour of the Greek God Zeus. The Games were held every Olympiad (every four years) and the prize for winning was a wreath of laurels and the winners were often granted fame and money. The events included in the Ancient Olympics were: boxing, wrestling, pankration, chariot racing, a number of running races (including the hoplite race in which competitors had to run in full armour), and the pentathlon which consisted of wrestling, stadion (approximately 180 metres), discus throw, javelin throw and long jump. The Games lasted from their conception in 776 BC until 394 AD when an invading Roman ruler suppressed them.
Throughout history there has been a number of sporting events trying to emulate the Olympic idea, including the Wenlock Olympian Games founded by Dr William Penny Brookes in 1860 which continues to this day. Another example of Olympic revival can be seen in 1856 when Evangelos Zappas offered to fund the revival of the Olympic Games in Greece. Greece then held the Games in 1859, 1870, and 1875. These two Olympic factions were key in the creation of the modern Olympic Games.
Baron Pierre de Coubertin, inspired by the Wenlock and Greek Olympic Games, created the International Olympic Committee in 1890, which aimed to establish an Olympic Games that rotated internationally every four years. The first ever modern Olympic Games was held in Athens, Greece in 1896 and brought together 241 athletes from 14 nations competing in 43 events and was a huge success. From then on, the Olympic Games were held in countries all over the world, every four years. In the years that passed, more sports and counties were added to the list of those included, and three more Olympic events added to the programme. The first to be added was the Winter Olympics. The Winter Olympics have been running since 1901; however they didn’t really kick off until 1924. The second separate event is the Paralympics which found its roots in 1948 where sporting events were used as rehabilitation for soldiers coming out of WW2. It wasn’t until 2001 that the International Olympic Committee signed the agreement which stated that the host of the Summer Games would also be the host of the Paralympics, and this agreement only came into effect during the 2008 Games in Beijing! The last event to be added was the Youth Olympic Games, agreed in 2001, and only begun in 2010, the events are the same as the Senior Olympics, though some rules differ due to age. Many Youth Olympians go on to compete in the Senior Summer and Winter Olympic Games.
The 2012 Summer Olympics were held in London, United Kingdom, and they have prompted every nation to unite behind their athletes, creating a buzzing atmosphere for all to enjoy. Even though the Games are over, this atmosphere doesn’t have to end. Each and every one of you could participate in feeding the competitive nature of the nation by joining a local sports club or team. It’s great fun and good for making friends, keeping active, and helping you live a healthy life. In the coming months, this sports page will be filled with information about all types of sports for you to try out, so WATCH THIS SPACE!