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“At its heart the Ancient Olympic Games was a religious festival held in a religious sanctuary,” Paul Christesen, professor of Ancient Greek History at Dartmouth College, USA, explained.As Christesen went on to say, “it was not just a matter of playing sports”. Olympia lay on the north-western corner of the Peloponnese.
Tim Montgomery, her boyfriend and world 100 metres record holder, won the men's hono Ur.“So while Olympia is a sanctuary to Zeus we know that he wasn’t the only deity worshipped at the site.There were over 70 different altars, you could sacrifice to pretty much anyone you wanted to.” While the Eleans maintained a permanent presence at Olympia, conducting monthly sacrifices, the site turned, for one week per year, from an essentially peaceful idyll into the mad, riotous centre of Greece."Not that my confidence builder was knocked off but it was jarred a little bit," the world's top-ranked 100 and 200 metres runner for six consecutive seasons said of her shock 100 metres defeat by Ukrainian Zhanna Pintusevich-Block at the 2001 world championships."To come back in 2002 and to win every single time I stepped on the track from 400 metres to 200 metres and, of course, 100 metres was a huge treat," said Jones, who had two victories over Pintusevich-Block among her 16 consecutive 100 metres triumphs in 2002."No, we did not get engaged," Jones said laughingly.
"But we are very happy and things are going great in our lives and we are looking forward to 2003." The time to kick back, she said, will not come until after the 2004 Athens Olympics, where she and Montgomery hope to be the king and queen of sprinting.
The city state of Elis, the administrative centre of which was about a day’s walk north from Olympia, ran the Games throughout the vast majority of its life cycle, with the Eleans seizing full control from their local rivals the Pisatans in 572BC.
Despite the stadium accommodating more than 40,000 people during the height of the Games’ popularity in the second century AD, it always remained a deeply rural setting.
The discovery of more than 150 wells dating to this time indicates that even this early in the life of the Olympic Games, they attracted considerable attention.
By the mid fourth century BC the third incarnation of the stadium was built.
“We know there was total chaos for a week because anyone who wanted to raise their profile, this was the place and time to do it.” The fourth incarnation of the stadium came in the first century as, fuelled by the return of chariot racing to the programme in AD17, the popularity of the Games soared.