How Did the Olympics Get Its Name?

The modern Olympic Games got their name because they were inspired by the ancient Olympic Games held in Olympia, Greece. The ancient games were held every four years just as the modern ones are. The modern Olympic flame is still lit in front of the temple of Hera in Olympia, and from there it is transported to wherever in the world the games are being held.

Greek legend says that Heracles, or Hercules, founded the Olympic Games in honor of his father. Although the games may have been going on for a long time previously, the first written records tell of the competition in 776 BCE when Coroebus, a cook, won the only event, a 192-meter run. He is regarded as the first Olympic champion. Within 100 years, several other events were added, including longer footraces, long jump, javelin throw, discus throw, wrestling, boxing and chariot racing. Only freeborn Greek men were allowed to compete. Not only were there no women's events, but married women were not even allowed to attend. The Olympic Games continued under Roman rule until 393 CE when the Christian Emperor Theodosius I banned all pagan festivals, including the Olympic Games.

The Olympics were revived in 1896 in Athens, Greece. They included male athletes from 13 nations competing in 43 events. When the 2004 Summer Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece, 11,000 men and women from 201 countries participated. In honor of the classical origins of the game, the shot put event that year was held at the ancient site in Olympia.