Like our Olympics, though, winning athletes were heroes who put
their home towns on the map. One young Athenian nobleman defended
his political reputation by mentioning how he entered seven
chariots in the Olympic chariot-race. This high number of entries
made both the aristocrat and Athens look very wealthy and
There were no weight classes within the mens' and boys'
divisions; opponents for a match were chosen randomly.
|There were both 2-horse chariot and 4-horse chariot races, with
separate races for chariots drawn by foals. Another race was
between carts drawn by a team of 2 mules. The course was 12 laps
around the stadium track (9 miles).
The course was 6 laps around the track (4.5 miles), and there were separate races for full-grown horses and foals. Jockeys rode without stirrups.
Only wealthy people could afford to pay for the training, equipment, and feed of both the driver (or jockey) and the horses. As a result, the owner received the olive wreath of victory instead of the driver or jockey.
This event was a grueling combination of boxing and wrestling. Punches were allowed, although the fighters did not wrap their hands with the boxing himantes.
Rules outlawed only biting and gouging an opponent's eyes, nose,
or mouth with fingernails. Attacks such as kicking an opponent in
the belly, which are against the rules in modern sports, were
This was a 5-event combination of discus, javelin, jumping,
running and wrestling.
The ancient Greeks considered the rhythm and precision of an athlete throwing the discus as important as his strength.
The discus was made of stone, iron, bronze, or lead, and was
shaped like a flying saucer. Sizes varied, since the boys' division
was not expected to throw the same weight as the mens'.
And if these races weren't enough, the Greeks had one
particularly grueling event which we lack. There was also a 2 to
4-stade (384 m. to 768 m.) race by athletes in armor. This race was
especially useful in building the speed and stamina that Greek men
needed during their military service. If we remember that the
standard hoplite armor (helmet, shield, and greaves)weighed about
50-60 lbs, it is easy to imagine what such an event must have been