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The Olympic Games
• Olympic Games Photo collection
• Olympic Games - A Greek Gods Creation
• Organization of the Games
• Athletes preparation for the Games
• Introduction of the Olympia sports
• Foot Races - Running
• Wrestling - boxing
• Discus - javelin throw
• Broad jump
• The champions
• History of the olympic games



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• The Acropolis of Athens
• Ancient Olympia the sanctuary
• Elis - The city of the Olympics
• The Archaeological area of Eleusis
• The Archaeological area of Delphi
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• Cycladic civilization
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                                                     Olympia sports - Foot Races
Olympia sports foot races



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At Elis, preceding the Olympic Games, the runners trained at the starting line and also practiced running in loose sand. Racing over crumbly sand toughened the muscles of legs and thighs, and added power to the racers' stride, whether the contestants were preparing for the sprints or the long-distance races.
Fastest and shortest of all was the stade race, a distance of 200 yards down the raceway in the center of the stadium. In the stade the racers ran from the starting balbis to the opposite stone sill which was the finish line for the sprint. Next came the diaulos, the two-stade race in which runners churned their 'way down the raceway to the sill at the opposite end of the field, turned around the posts set in the balbis, and ran back to the line where they started. Each racer had to turn around the post opposite to his own at the starting line so every racer ran the exact same distance. In the diaulos part of the skill was in turning around the post with skill, grace, and speed.

Vase painters, sculptors and mural painters provided us with information about the sprint. As seen here, the body of the sprinter is erect and tense; his arms are flung outward and back in swift movements to help propel himself down the tract He runs on the ball of the foot with his heels barely touching the ground at all.
In swift, pounding movements his knees are raised high as his legs move with the blurring speed that we can actually see today in stroboscopic photographs.
Length of the various events in foot racing at Olympia progressed upward to the maximum of twenty-four stades, the three-mile distance race known as the dolichos. The physique of the distance runner was stockier, heavier, and bulkier, to produce both the speed and stamina needed to endure the lung-crushing punishment down and back the length of the stadium twenty-four times.
Arms for the dolichos are held close to the sides, pumping rhythmically back and forth across the waist. With long, graceful strides the distance runner has his chest puffed out, his head erect. With toes pointed forward (one or the fine points of Greek distance racing) the runner plants his feet more flatly on the ground than the sprinter. The modern racer, looking at vase paintings from the past, is at once struck by the similarities of racing then and now.
Racing took up the better part of one day of the five-day Olympic Festival, but there was no Marathon race in ancient times. The Marathon, commemorating Pheidippides' run from Marathon to Athens, is a modern invention; it was inaugurated as a part of the Olympic events during the first modern revival in 1896.
In the fifth century B.C. a new kind of race, the armor race, was introduced into the Olympic Games. For that race, the nude runner, clad only in a heavy bronze helmet, carried a heavy bronze shield; sometimes metal greaves encased legs.

At first the armor race was an entertainment, a spectacle-then it became an official competition for
racers. The racers were sturdy and powerfully muscled, with strength and endurance for a fast run
carrying fifty pounds of armor. The race was a diaulos, a two-stade race down and back the distance of the stadium.
Armor races were popular with the spectators but there were not many men to participate. We know that it was a specialty event, because at Olympia the priests and officials kept twenty-five shields and helmets, all of the same weight. Having handled and lifted one of those shields on a recent visit to Olympia, we can well understand why it took a powerful man to engage in armor racing: having had on one of those helmets, we sympathize with men who raced with such accouterments!
Another popular exhibition were the torch races. These races, usually run at night, were performed as spectacles, not competitive events. In the bright of the full moon, runners, each carrying an unlighted torch, would race down the stadium to a sacred altar, plunge their torches into the sacred flame and race back to the starting line, blazing torches brightening the way.





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