History of Olympic Games

The origin of the ancient Olympic Games is lost the midst of pre-history, but for many centuries they were only a festival of the Greek people. The Games were first held in honour of the Greek God, Zeus in 776 BC in the plain of kingdom of Elis, nestled in lush valley between the Alpheus River and Mount Kronion, 15 km from the Ionian Sea. The Olympiad celebrated that year was considered as the first and was used to date subsequent historic events. But religious ceremonies and games were held in Olympia before that time. The oldest sanctuary of Greece was there, the altar of the Great Mother of Gods, Rhea (Earth). On the day of the feast, the priest stood in front of the altar, ready to perform a sacrifice. Women were forbidden to be present and the male contestants were naked. Young men waited at a distance on one stadium (about 200 yds). As soon as a signal was given they ran and the first to arrive at the altar received the torch from the priest’s hand and lit the sacrificial fire

The old Olympiads were held after every four years and the Greeks measured time in terms of Games started on the first new moon after the summer solstice, around mid-July. The ancient Olympic Games lasted for five days and the events took place in a precise order. On the first day, there were sacrifices and opening ceremonies. On the second day there were special competitions for the “ephebians”. The third day was devoted to events for adult competitors: dromos, diaulos, dolichos, pugilism, wrestling, pancratium. On the fourth day, there were equestrian events, pentathlon, and race with arms. On the fifth and the final day, there were closing ceremonies and proclamation of the heroes. During the first six Olympic games, however, the prize had been a portion of meat or ‘meria’ taken from an animal sacrificed to the Gods. It was only after VII Games that the olive crown was given to the winners and the moral significance of the prize was considerable. Once the prizes were awarded, a flock of pigeons was releases to carry the names of the champions to all the corners of the Greece.

Indian Olympic Medal Winners

K D Jadhav
Wrestling , 1952

Leander Paes
Tennis , 1996

Karnam Malleswari
Weightlifting, 2000

R S Rathore
Shooting, 2004

Abhinav Bindra
Shooting, 2008

Sushil Kumar
Wrestling, 2008

Vijendra Kumar
Boxing, 2008

Vijay Kumar
Shooting, 2012

Shushil Kumar
Wrestling, 2012

Mery Kom
Boxing, 2012

Saina Nehwal
Badminton, 2012

Gagan Narang
Shooting, 2012

Yogeshwar Dutt
Wrestling, 2012

Shakshi Malik
Wrestling, 2016

P V Sindhu
Badminton, 2016