~ By Vancouver personal trainer Cassandra Kruger. To learn more about Cassandra check out her bio.
|The first Olympic games date back to 776 BC. They were viewed as a dedication to the Olympic Gods and took place on the ancient plains of Olympia. Though the games were closely associated with religious festivals of the cult of Zeus, they were also intended to show the physical qualities and evolution of young athletes. In addition, the original Olympic Games maintained good relations between Greek cities.
Initially, the Games were only one day in length. They were later extended to three days and finally in the 5th century, to five days in total. The ancient Games included: running, long jump, shot put, javelin, boxing, pankration (a brutal form of martial arts which combined wrestling and boxing) and equestrian events. The pentathlon was added to the list of events in 708 BC, when wrestling was officially represented as a sport.
|Photo Courtesy of *roving*sheep|
All Greek males were allowed to participate in the Games, regardless of their social status. Married women were neither able to participate or watch and unmarried women were only able to be spectators (Thank goodness for modern times!)
Athletes were awarded immediately after each event, with their first honor, earning a palm branch in their hands along with red ribbons for their heads and hands as a sign of victory. The official closing ceremonies were held on the final day of the Games, upon the temple of Zeus, and the sacred and symbolic olive tree wreath (kotinos) was placed on each winner’s head.
The athletes who were victorious became almost immortalized, in their attempts to emulate the Gods. Many were considered legends as they succeeded in numerous Olympic Games and remained in the forefront of their sport for years.
Today, the Olympic Games are a major international event consisting of both summer and winter sports, which alternate every two years. More than 200 nations participate in 33 different sports and nearly 400 events. Throughout the 20 th and 21st centuries, new additions include the Paralympics Games and the Youth Olympic Games. The concept of solely having amateur athletes has also been revised, allowing professional athletes to compete as well. Every two years, with mass media exposure, athletes are given the opportunity to excel and receive national and international distinction and fame. Each chosen host city also has the prospect to present themselves to the rest of the world.
This year the Olympic Games are in full swing in London, England, where they were previously hosted in 1908 and 1948. The Games will run from July 27-August 12, followed by the Paralympics from August 29-Sept 9. Canada has taken part in all the Olympic Games since 1900, with the exception of 1980, which the team boycotted. Canada has 277 athletes and 93 coaches in attendance and will be participating in 24 sporting events. (We did not send a handball or field hockey team). Team Canada’s hope is to be in the top 12 medal holding countries. With a great deal of pride, the Vancouver personal trainers and clients at Momentum Fitness wish each and every Canadian athlete all the luck and support they deserve!