Zeus, the Greek god of lore was the first to inspire the ancient games we now know as the Olympics, but those initial games were a far cry from the current games of today — so when were the first modern Olympics held?
Inspired by the first ancient games held in Olympia, Greece in 776 BC as part of a religious festival to honor Zeus, the original games were first comprised of all-male competitors from every corner of the ancient Greek kingdom, which reached all the way to Iberia (Spain) and the Black Sea (Turkey). Many literary traditions say that the only sport at the first 13 Olympic games was track, which first started as a foot race spanning 600 feet. The first track race was won by a cook named Koroibos from the city of Elis.
However, according to the University of Pennsylvania, the modern games as we know them were reignited by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, a Frenchman who first suggested bringing the games back to life in 1894. He originally wanted to unveil the games in his native Paris, but delegates from around the world got so excited that they decided to have the first games take place in 1896 in Athens, Greece.
Two hundred and forty one athletes from over 14 countries participated in the first modern Olympic games, with the majority of competitors hailing from Greece, Germany, Great Britain, and France. To honor the historic legacy of the first games, the Greeks were particularly determined to win the track race that year. Spyridon Louis, a 24-year-old Greek shepherd from Marathon, Greece (its real name) ran approximately 24 miles from his hometown to the Olympic Stadium in Athens, winning first place to the delight of 100,000 spectators.
The games as we know them today have definitely evolved, with the first Winter Olympics added in 1924. Countless sports have also been added since that time, and we couldn’t imagine the games without them.
Here’s to a spirited and eventful 2018 Winter Olympics!