An Athlete’s Preparation for the Ancient Olympics


The whole of the Olympic festival lasted 5 days. Apparently, the sport facilities at Olympia weren’t used during the time in between the festivals. Any undergrowth which had appeared was cut and the courses had to be dug and levelled.

The Hellanodikai, (the most important officials at the Games) ordered preparations ten months in advance of the Games. There were about 10 altogether, one was the supervisor over everything while the rest of them were divided into 3 groups, each in charge of a particular event. The first group was in charge of the equestrian events, the second group had the pentathlon and the third group had the remaining events.

The athletes had to have strict training in their home towns during this time and had to swear an oath to ensure that they would. This was meant to help them prepare for the upcoming events even though 10 months of serious training would probably tire them out a lot.

With one month to go, all the competitors in the Games had to return to Elis and train under very strict supervision of the Hellanodikai.

There were 3 gymnasia at Elis as well as the market place which was taken over and cleared for a track for the contestants who were competing in the horse races. They were very strict about fitness at Elis because if you were thought not to be fit were disqualified and to ensure that wouldn’t happen the athletes had a strict diet and obey whatever the Hellanodikai said.

With two days to go everybody in Elis set out for Olympia which was about 58 kilometres away. They took a path called the Sacred Way along the coast while stopping along the way to sacrifice a pig perform other rites at the fountain of Piera. They rested at Letrini for the night but then set off again towards the Altis.

The scene is set…

While the athletes were walking to Olympia, other people had set off as well for example; princes, tyrants and ambassadors. When the spectators did finally get there, most found a spot for their belongings and sleep during the night. On the day of the Games, there would be no space to watch it because of the size of the crowd.


About emanuelolympics

Year Nine Classics sets out to compare the Ancient Olympic Games with those to be held in London in 2012.
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