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The Ancient Olympic Games

The first recorded ancient Olympic Games were held in 776 BC. The games were always held at Olympia instead of moving around to different host cities every time as in the modern Olympic Games.

olympic discus throwerThey continued to be celebrated about every four years, until the emperor Theodosius I suppressed them in 394 AD. The games were banned for being a pagan festival (the Olympics celebrated the Greek god Zeus).

At the first recorded ancient Olympic Games, there was only one event - the stade. The stade was a unit of measurement (about 600 feet) that also became the name of the footrace because it was the distance run. Since the track for the stade (race) was a stade (length), the location of the race became the stadium. (see more about the events of the ancient Olympics).

Only free men (not slaves) who spoke Greek could compete, rather than athletes from any country as in the modern Olympics.


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