The Ancient Olympics The ancient Olympics grew out of religious festivals that many Greek cities held to honor their gods. Athletic contests, like foot racing and wrestling, were part of these festivals. As Greece became a bigger and more important country, the cities started holding a large festival as a sign of unity. They eventually chose a place called Olympia to hold the festival, partly because of its many religious temples. Every four years, all wars were stopped as the country came together to honor the god Zeus. The Ancient Olympics These early Olympics each lasted between one and three days, but from around 400 BC on, the festival was a full five days as more and more events were added. Many of these events are still held today, like running races, javelin and discus throws, wrestling and boxing. Some other events included chariot racing and contests for boys. Even though Olympics had been held for hundreds of years, the first time anyone kept track of the winners was in 776BC. A cook named Coroebus is the first champion listed, winning the stadion, a race of about 210 yards. The Ancient Olympics During the 1000 years after those first "official" Games in 776BC, Greece came under Roman rule. After the 293rd Olympics in 393 AD, the Roman emperor Theodosius II declared that the Games would no longer be held, and the Olympic movement ended. The Ancient Olympics Although the ancient games were staged in Olympia, Greece, from 776 BC through 393 AD, it took 1,503 years for the Olympics to return. A Frenchman by the name of Baron Pierre de Coubertin had an idea to bring the games back. He felt international competition between amateur athletes would help create friendly relationships between people from other countries. The Ancient Olympics Coubertin presented his idea in 1894, and at first many had no interest in the revival of the games, but later it was voted unanimously to bring the games back. Coubertin went on to form the International Olympic Committee in 1896 to insure there wouldn’t be another downfall like the ancient Olympic Games had. This Committee would have the responsibility of keeping the amateur spirit of the games alive, and ensuring there were no outside influences involved in the decisions of it’s members. The Ancient Olympics It was first agreed the games were to be held in Paris in 1900, but delegates were so excited they couldn’t wait that long, and they decided to change the venue to Athens, the capital of Greece, and the date to 1896. The Olympics returned to the land of it’s birth and was a great success. What Do The Olympic Rings Signify? • According to most accounts, the rings were adopted by Baron Pierre de Coubertin (founder of the modern Olympic Movement) in 1913 after he saw a similar design on an artifact from ancient Greece. The five rings represent the five major regions of the world: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. Every national flag in the world includes at least one of the five colors, which are blue, yellow, black, green, and red. The Olympic Flame The tradition of lighting an Olympic Flame comes from the ancient Greeks. During the Ancient Olympic Games, a sacred flame was lit from the sun’s rays at Olympia, and stayed lit until the Games were completed. This flame represented the "endeavor for protection and struggle for victory." It was first introduced into our Modern Olympics at the 1928 Amsterdam Games. Since then, the flame has come to symbolize "the light of spirit, knowledge, and life." The Torch Relay also began in the Ancient Olympics and was revived at the 1936 Berlin Games. Originally, the torch was lit at Olympia in Greece and then carried by relay to the host-city of the games. The last runner carries the torch into the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony. The flame is then lit from the torch and will remain lit until it is extinguished during the Closing Ceremony. The Torch Relay symbolizes the passing of Olympic traditions from one generation to the next. The Olympic Creed • This Olympic Creed (or "Olympic Message") has appeared on the scoreboard during Opening Ceremony at every modern Olympic Games. Baron de Coubertin was inspired to adopt this creed after he heard a sermon by the Bishop of Pennsylvania, at a service for Olympic Athletes in 1908. It reminds us that in our life, just like in the Olympics, winning is not the most important thing. It is the ultimate challenge for which we all struggle as we strive to be "Swifter, Higher, Stronger." • "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well." The Athletes’ Oath At the start of each Olympics, every athlete promises to play fairly and obey all of the Olympic rules. One athlete from the host country takes this oath at the Opening Ceremonies on behalf of all athletes. The chosen athlete holds a corner of the Olympic Flag while repeating the oath: "In the name of all competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules that govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.“ The oath was written by Baron de Coubertin, and became a part of our Modern Olympic Games in 1920. Now, let’s all compete in the 2007 Metric Olympics!
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