HOT TOPIC: Olympic History
Volume 2, Issue 16 - January 8, 2006

"Happy New Year! We will kick off 2006 dedicating all four D12 issues in January to the upcoming Olympic games in Turin, Italy. This week we will focus on the history of the games, from ancient Greece to the modern Olympic movement.

The original Olympic event was a small regional festival in the 11th century which was held in Mycenae, where they worshipped the Goddess Rhea, sister of Cronus and father of Zeus. The first games as we think of them began in 776 BC and reached their height of popularity in 576. The festival was open to only Greek born men but later Romans were allowed to compete. Slaves and women were not even allowed to watch. The events included foot races, long-jump, wrestling, chariot racing, discus, javelin, horse and a type of boxing called pancratium. In addition to athletic events there were also writing, poetry and history readings. While everyone was gathered, treaties and business transactions were made between the city-states.

The ruins of the ancient Olympics were excavated by the German archaeologist Ernst Curtius from 1875-81, when he uncovered the stadium of the original Olympic Games. In June, 1894, French educator Pierre de Coubertin, speaking to a gathering of international sports leaders, proposed that the Olympic Games be revived internationally, and the Modern Olympics were born. Any study of the history of the last one-hundred years must include the modern Olympic games, as they have become inextricably intertwined with the major events of the twentieth century. As we begin this new century, the Olympics continue the motto “faster higher stronger” – ideals to which men and women continue to aspire."


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©2005 Walter McKenzie

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