The Olympic Games were a vital part of Greek culture which was heavily influenced by athletics. Today, the Olympic Games are the world's largest presentation of athletic skill and competitive spirit. Thousands of athletes and spectators participate in this universal event. Revived in 1896, the Olympic Games had their beginnings in ancient Greece, and since then the event is very much comparable to modern Olympic events.
In a city in southwestern Greece, called Olympia, is the birthplace of the Olympic games. Created to offer thanksgiving and honor to Zeus, chief god, the first record of the Olympics dates back to 776 bc and the event occurs every four years thereafter. The first day of the festival was devoted to non-human sacrifices as praise to the gods. Speeches from famous philosophers , poetry readings parades, and banquets were also held before the games begun. .
Athletics were of immense importance to the Greeks. The first Olympic Games were made up of only foot races and later through the centuries expanded to include wrestling, javelin hurling, discus throwing, boxing, jumping, chariot racing, horse riding, the pankration and the pentathlon. The period of competition gradually expanded to five days and the festivals to one month. The foot races included four types of racing. The stadion was the oldest event in which runners sprinted for 192 meters or 1 strade. The 2-strade race was 384 meters and long distance running ranged from 1,344 to 4,608 meters (7-24 strades). Ancient Greece also had a 2-4 strade race by athletes in 50-60 pounds of armor. This was especially useful in building stamina, endurance and speed for Greek men who served in the military. In wrestling, the object was to throw your opponent down three times to be the victor. Javelin hurling used a man-high length of wood with a sharpened point that sometimes had an attached metal point. A thong on the javelin for athletes" fingers attached to its center of gravity and increased its precision and distance.