First Olympic Games

The first Olympic Games were held in 776 BCE, however they were certainly held for many years, if not centuries, before that. According to the Chronicon, which was assembled in the fourth century CE by historian Eusebius of Caesarea from numerous now-lost Greek sources, the winner of the ancient Olympics’ greatest event – the Stadion footrace – was a chef named Koroibos from the adjacent city of Elis (or Coroebus).

Until 684 BCE, the games were a single-day festival conducted within the Sanctuary of Olympia, then they were enlarged to three days. The tournament was eventually expanded over five days and relocated to a larger purpose-built stadium nearby. It is believed that 40,000 people attended the Games during their pinnacle of popularity.

The Stadion footrace, a 200 m (656 ft) straight-line sprint, is the sole event described in reports of the early Games. It’s unclear whether this was the sole event or only the one whose winners were recorded. Later events included the pentathlon, a long jump (in which participants wore heavy counterweights called halteres to assist their jumps), and field events like as javelin, shot put, and discus. Boxing, wrestling, and pankraton – a type of ancient mixed martial arts that contained aspects of both boxing and wrestling – were among the combat sports.

Between the first and fourth centuries, the games declined. The Christianization of Greece dissolved the connection between the games and religious ceremonial, while the Roman Empire’s economic and military fall depleted the region’s resources and ability to finance such big festivities. The games were formally stopped in 393 CE by Roman Emperor Theodosius I, but they most likely continued on a small local basis for some time after that.

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