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The Zanes, Olympia

The Zanes, Olympia

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The Zanes, Olympia - History









The Mr. Olympia has been staged 21 times in the month of September, 13 times in the month of October, and three times in November.

In the United States, east of the Mississippi River, the Mr. Olympia has been staged 10 times in New York, New York. Six times in Columbus, Ohio, three times in Atlanta, Georgia twice in Chicago, Illinois, and once in Orlando, Florida.

In the United States, west of the Mississippi River, the Mr. Olympia has only been staged five times, twice in Los Angeles, and three times in Las Vegas.

Overseas, the Mr. Olympia has been staged in Paris, France Essen, Germany Pretoria, South Africa Syndey, Australia London, England Munich, Germany Brussels, Belguim Goteborg, Sweden Rimini, Italy and Helsinki, Finland.

The first nine Mr. Olympia from 1965 to 1973 averaged only 3-4 competitors per contest. Number of contestants in the Mr. Olympia were 1965 (3), 1966 (4), 1967 (4), 1968 (1), 1969 (3), 1970 (3), 1971 (1), 1972 (5), 1973 (3).

In 1974 to 1979, the Mr. Olympia has two classes, over 200, and under 200. The average number of contestants during these years climed to 9-10 per contest.

During 1980 - 1983, the Mr. Olympia averaged 16 competitors per contest.

During the Lee Haney Years, 1984 - 1991, the Mr. Olympia averaged 20-21 competitors per contest.

During the Dorian Yates Years, 1992 - 1997, the Mr. Olympia averaged 18 competitors per contest.

During the Ronnie Coleman Years, 1998-2001 so far, the Mr. Olympia averaged 17 competitors per contest.

Of the 10 men who have planted their personal flag atop Mount Olympia, all but two have been repeat winners. The one time champs are Chris Dickerson, and Samir Bannout.

Only Larry Scott won the Olympia on his first attempt. The others took two or more tries.

The youngest Mr. Olympia competitor was Harold Poole in 1965. He was 21 years old.

The oldest Mr. Olympia competitor was Albert Beckles in 1991. He was 53 years old.

The youngest Mr. Olympia winner was Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1970. He was 23 years old.

The oldest Mr. Olympia winner was Chris Dickerson in 1982. He was 43 years old.

The average age of the Mr. Olympia winners is 33 years old.

Most Mr. Olympia competitions include Albert Beckles with 13, Shawn Ray with 13, and Samir Bannout with 11.

- History of MR. OLYMPIA -

In 1963, Joe Weider surveyed the available bodybuilding titles, and felt that none of them quite matched the vision he harbored of where the sport was headed. The Master Blaster insstrinctively realized that the current generation of bodybuilders was taking the sport to uncharted heights, and that they required a contest worthy of their talents. Joe came up with the iltimate contest, the ultimate prize for the ultimate physique, the Mr. Olympia, which materialized in 1965. Needless to say, the posing platform was forever transformed.

It all started on September 18, 1965. The crowd at the Brooklyn Academy of Music waited at the edge of their seats, screaming in anticipation. They clapped their hands, stomped their feet and yelled as loud as their lungs would allow for the blond superstar from California with arms too big to believe. The man they were waiting for was the legendary Larry Scott , and the reason why they were waiting was because this was the night of Joe Weider's greatest creation. This was the night of the first ever Mr. Olympia contest.

Larry Scott was the bodybuilding superstar of his day, but by 1963 there were no more world to conquer. Scott had already won the Mr. America, Mr. World and Mr. Universe titles there was little left for him to prove. Besides proving anything, Scott already had a houseful of trophies and plaques and felt it was time to move on from bodybuilding and make some money.

Joe Weider recognized the need to keep Larry Scott in bodybuilding and the necessity to force the sport to grow. He created the Mr. Olympia contest to keep all the great Mr. Universe champions active in the sport and to give them the opportunity to earn money from competing. Joe could see that for the sport to succeed in the future, the champions would have to be able to make a living from competing in the sport just like other professional athletes.

Larry Scott indeed won the first Mr. Olympia contest that hot September night in 1965 and repeated as Mr. Olympia again in 1966. He then announced his retirement and the 1967 crown was up for grabs.

In 1967, Sergio Oliva (commonly known as "The Myth") won the third Mr. Olympia contest in overpowering fashion. People wondered how much better Sergio could get. But better he was! In fact, he was so much better that he won the 1968 Mr. Olympia unopposed. You know true greatness when no one dares to challenge.

Nevertheless, the greatest challenge to Sergio was waiting in the wings and 1969 commenced the greatest rivalry in the history of bodybuilding. Oliva was challenged by a young Austrian named Arnold Schwarzenegger . In a close battle, Sergio came out on top in 1969. He was now Mr. Olympia three years in a row, but Arnold promised that Sergio would never defeat him again.

Both men trained hard for the following year and in September of 1970, Arnold edged out Sergio to become the third man to hold the Mr. Olympia title. He'd said he would hold the title until he retired and that he would never be beaten again.

Arnold took the title unopposed in 1971. For the first time, the show was held outside of New York. The Mr. Olympia contest was held in Paris the same day the NABBA Universe was being held in London. Arnold, with his loyalty 100% behind the IFBB, competed in the Mr. Olympia while other great champions of that year chose to avoid Arnold and compete in the NABBA competition.

In 1972, the Olympia moved to Essen, Germany, were it hosted another epic battle between Sergio and Arnold. Even today, more than 20 years later, people still argue over who should have won. The decision was made by seven judges and, by a four to three vote, Arnold held on to his Mr. Olympia title.

In 1973, the contest moved back to New York, and the Big Apple saw Arnold take the title for the fourth consecutive year with a victory over Franco Columbu and Serge Nubret. Most people felt it was an easy win for Arnold, but a huge challenge awaited him for the following year - the emergence of Lou Ferrigno on the pro scene.

Standing 6"5" and weighing 270 pounds, Lou was the largest competitor that Arnold had ever faced. The show was held in New York at the Felt Forum in Madison Square Garden. Arnold again showed his dominance and won the title for a fifth time, but rumors started to circulate that he was thinking of retiring.

The Mr. Olympia moved to South Africa in 1975, forever preserved on film in Pumping Iron. Most people close to Arnold feel the only reason he competed in 1975 was because the contest was being filmed and it could possibly aid in kicking off his film career. Arnold won the contest easily and immediately announced his retirement.

In 1976, the contest moved to Columbus, Ohio, with Arnold serving as promoter along with Jim Lorimer. Franco Columbu finally won the Mr. Olympia title after trying for more than five years. It was not an easy victor, for he won by only an eyelash over Frank Zane . After the contest, Columbu announced his retirement while Zane immediately started training for the next year.

The next year, 1977, turned out to be the year of Zane. Frank has promoted himself that way for the 12 months leading up to the contest. He came to Columbus ripped and ready. he felt that no one could match his muscle density and he was right.

Almost like an instant replay , the 1978 show was again held in Columbus and Frank Zane walked away with the title. Frank proved that the Mr. Olympia winner did not necessarily have to be big, as what wins is quality.

In 1979, Zane made it three in a row. Could he go on forever? Would he challenge Arnold's record of six Olympias in a row? Zane seemed unbeatable, but 1980 would prove to be the most controversial Olympia in history.

In 1980, the contest was held in Australia. The field of competitors was the largest to date (16), but it was the comeback of one that made the story. Many in the sport had seen Arnold training for weeks before the 1980 Mr. Olympia, but most felt in was for a movie. When Arnold boarded the plane for Australia with the other competitors, they thought he was going to do the TV commentary. Even at the contestants meeting, they though he was there because he was an IFBB promoter and official. It dawned on them that he was there to compete when his name was called and he selected a competitor number. Arnold won the Mr. Olympia title for a seventh time in 1980, but to this day, many people still wonder why he came back. Some observers at the time said the judging, as well as the location, was 'down under'.

In 1981, Arnold switched back to being a promoter with Jim Lorimer and the contest was again held in Columbus. Not to be outdone by his famous friend, Franco Columbu staged a comeback himself and won the 1981 title in a tight contest of 16 contestants.

In 1982, London, England, hosted the show for the first time. Chris Dickerson won the title after finishing second the two previous year. After winning, Dickerson announced his retirement while onstage.

The contest returned to Germany in 1983, but this time to Munich, where it was won by the Lion of Lebanon, Samir Bannout . He fought off tough challenges from Mohammed Makkaway from Egypt and newcomer Lee Haney from the USA. Samir had what it took to be a dominant champion, but no one foresaw the determination of Haney.

In 1984, the even moved back to New York City's Felt Forum, where it has the highest attendance for the finals (5,000), the highest attendance for prejudging (4,000) and the largest amount of total prize money ($100,000) for any Olympia up to that time. It also featured the largest Mr. Olympia winner, Lee Haney . Haney won weighing 247 pounds at a height of 5'11". He was big, he was massive and he was cut. Also, he was unbeatable.

In 1985, the show was held in Belgium for the first time. Haney was dominant again, fishing off the challenges of Albert Beckles and Rich Gaspari. It was now two and counting for Lee. Many people feel that the Lee Haney onstage in 1986 rendition in Columbus may have been the greatest Mr. Olympia ever. Lee took his third straight crown and began setting his sights on Arnold's record.

In 1987, the Mr. Olympia contest moved to Sweden, but the first place result was the same. Haney was head and shoulders above all the others. He had now won four in a row and Arnold's record was definitely within his reach.

In 1988, Los Angeles was the host city of the Olympia. The Universal Amphitheater was jammed by 6,000 people who came to see if Lee Haney could continue in his quest of becoming the greatest Mr. Olympia ever. With prize money at its highest level, $150,000, Haney again won easily, making it five straight times. For the third year in a row, Rich Gaspari placed second.

The next year brought the Mr. Olympia to Rimini, Italy, on the beautiful Adriatic coast. This would prove to be Haney's toughest defense as he has to fight of the challenges of Lee Labrada and Vince Taylor. For the first time, people doubted Haney's dominance and many people said that he was lucky to win, But win he did, and in doing so he tied Arnold's record of six consecutive Mr. Olympia victories.

In 1990, 4,400 people packed Chicago's Arie Crown Theater. Prize money hit $200,000 for the first time as Haney tried to make in seven in a row. If 1989 was tough for Haney, 1990 was the year he almost lost. After two rounds, he was behind by two points, but he rallied in the posing round and posedown to best Lee Labrada and Shawn Ray. Haney now had seven consecutive Mr. Olympia titles.

Orlando, Florida, was the site of the 1991 Mr. Olympia. Haney was going for eight in a row, but for the first time he was up against a man who was the same height (5'11") and weight (245 pounds) in Dorian Yates , the Beast from Britain. Four points separated them after two rounds, but Haney pulled away in rounds three and four to seize his eighth championship in a row.

In 1992, the Mr. Olympia contest moved to Helsinki, Finland. A new Mr. Olympia would be crowned that year because Lee Haney had decided to retire after a record setting eight consecutive victories. The contest was close after the first round between U.S. National champion of 1991, Kevin Levrone, and the 1991 Mr. Olympia runner up, Dorian Yates . But after the first round, Yates started pulling away and won in convincing fashion.

A new Mr. Olympia was crowned, but did a new era begin?

Nothing could stop the amazing Yates in 1993 as he rocketed the scales at a record 257 pounds in Atlanta. Even runner-up Flex Wheeler called him "untouchable". Yates certainly seemed set for a long reign in the manner of other great Mr. Olympias.

However, the Brit endured a horrendous year in 1994. In early March, he severely damaged his left rotator cuff, and then later on the month, he tore his left quad. He battled his way through, but with the Olympia less then nine weeks away, he tore his left biceps. Displaying true blood and guys, even that injury could not end Yate's Olympia dream. He duly arrived in Atlanta to take his third Sandow statuette, but questions were raised as to what was previously thought to be his invincibility.

If doubts were raised about Yate's reign he didn't hear, or head, them. He returned to Atlanta in 1995 to score a straight firsts victory in what many rate his best ever form. Kevin Levrone hulked into second place a new threat emerged in his spot in the 270 pound shape of Nasser El Sonbaty. Not that Yates was the only Mr. O onstage that night, as in a unique ceremony, for the first time ever, all nine men who have so far won the Olympia crown assembled onstage to pay homage to the contest's creator, Joe Weider.

In 1996, after a three year tenure, the Olympia left Atlanta and moved to Chicago. In the Windy City, Yates, more streamlined that we've ever seen him, cruised to victory, closely followed by Shawn Ray and Kevin Levrone. It was the Brit's fifth victory, and, as in 1994, doubts about his invincibility began to surface.

In 1997, the Mr. Olympia road show arrived in Long Beach to celebrate the 33rd rendition of bodybuilding's ultimate contest. Total prize money was $285,000, first place was worth $110,000, and the bodybuilders are recognized as professional athletes in the truest sense of the world. Dorian Yates was now going for six Olympia titles in a row. Could he make it six in a row? Would he make a run at Haney's record of eight in a row? It was a hard fought contest. Nasser El Sonbaty came in at his best condition to date and opushed Dorian hard, but in the end, once again, in a very close race, Dorian succeeded for the sixth time as Mr. Olympia. Some felt that Nasser was better, and had been cheated out of a victory! With Dorian announcing moments after winning the contest that he would be back to get a seventh title in 1998, it set up an interesting confrontation. What most people did not know is that Dorian had suffered a torn triceps a few months before the show, and had said nothing about it and competed.

1998 now arrived, and Dorian had decided, after he had surgery to repaid the torn tricep, that, due to lingering injuries, not to compete in this year's Mr. Olympia in New York and to retire. With the great Yates done, that meant a new Mr. Olympia would be crowned in New York on October 10, 1998. This would be one exciting show, with a guaranteed new winner! The Mr. Olympia contest, which only Joe Weider had the imagination to create, is now firmly established as bodybuilding's show of shows. From intense competition, Ronnie Coleman came from out of nowhere for a dramatic win. With Flex Wheeler and Ronnie Coleman competing for the top prize, a new king was elected. Ronnie Coleman , with his massive back and freaky posture, became the latest Mr. Olympia. His fellow competitors sportingly congratulated the cop from Texas on his narrow victory, but privately the knew they had blown an opportunity to go down in history. Afterward, debate raged whether Coleman's victory was a one time affair, or the beginning of a new Mr. O dynasty. Not since Samir Bannout in 1983 had there been a one year Mr. Olympia. Haney has won eight in a row, Yates six. Would Coleman flash and fizzle or solidify his grip on power?

The answer came in Las Vegas, at the ornate Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas strip on October 23, 1999. The venue itself was completely sold out! There, 17 warriors took the stage, with Coleman and Flex Wheeler locked in a close battle. Wheeler had done his homework, but the reigning Mr. Olympia would leave no doubters this night. Chris Cormier placed 3rd, with his best physique ever at this show, and when Ronnie was called the winner, Flex turned his back on the judges, and lifted his finger saying he was #1. But Ronnie proved to the world that he is the Mr. Olympia king! Ronnie Coleman was even bigger than he had been the previous year, and his sparling condition held throughout. He won his second consecutive title.

On October 21, 2000, Coleman took another step toward placing his name among the greatest of them all by winning his 3rd consecutive Mr. Olympia. Challenges came from Flex Wheeler and Kevin Levrone, but incredibly, Ronnie was even bigger then he was in the past Mr. Olympia. Ronnie was untouchable.

On October 27, 2001, Jay Cutler came from out of nowhere to capture the first two rounds of the Mr. Olympia, and gave Ronnie Coleman one of his biggest scares of his life, and one of the most exciting Olympia's ever! During the evening show, Ronnie Coleman won both rounds, and beat Jay Cutler by an extremely close score, by six points. With some fans swearing that Jay should of won the show, and a press conference two days before that was one of the most exciting in year, it was an incredible year.

Next year, 2001, at the Mandalay Bay, Coleman will once again try to perpetuate the trend of the dominate champ in Mr. Olympia lore. His name has already been added to the roster of multiple winners, but there will be plenty of top beef fixing to put a stop to Ronnie's reign, including Jay Cutler, Chris Cormier, Kevin Levrone, and Dennis James. And that's what makes this contest so special: the hunger of the athletes, the unpredictability of the action, the unsentimentally of fate. It has been this way for 37 years, and it will be this way for 37 more. (source and

Gelo of Syracuse

Gelo of Gela won an Olympic victory, in 488, for the chariot. Astylus of Croton won in the stade and diaulos races. When Gelo became tyrant of Syracuse -- as happened more than once to the much adored and honored Olympic victors -- in 485, he persuaded Astylus to run for his city. Bribery is assumed. The angry people of Croton tore down Astylus' Olympic statue and seized his house.

14. Chris Cormier

Chris Cormier is a retired bodybuilder from America who competed in the IFBB from the late 󈨔s to the early 2000s’.

He won several major bodybuilding competitions throughout his career, including the 1997 Night of Champions, 1999, 2000, and 2001 Ironman Pro Invitational, and the Grand Prix Australia multiple times.

Chris has also competed in more than 70 IFBB competitions over his 30+ year career.

In terms of aesthetics, Cormier was on the heavier side compared to most, weighing in around 250lbs on stage.

However, that didn’t stop him from bringing clean lines, deep cuts, and shredded legs every time he stepped on stage.

Overall, his physique was well balanced and a sight to be saluted!

Shortcuts to Gold: 9 Cheaters in Olympic History

1. Ben Johnson.
After smashing a world record to win the most anticipated event of the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the 100-meter dash, the Canadian sprinter told a press conference, 𠇊 gold medal—that’s something no one can take away from you.” Not exactly. A day later, Johnson tested positive for an anabolic steroid and was stripped of the gold medal, which was awarded to American Carl Lewis. (Lewis himself had tested positive for stimulants during the 1988 U.S. Olympic trials, but the U.S. Olympic Committee overturned his suspension.) In 1999, Saadi el-Qaddafi, son of Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi and an aspiring soccer player, hired Johnson as a fitness coach. After suiting up for one game in an Italian soccer league, Qaddafi, too, failed a drug test.

2. Madeline and Margaret de Jesus.
After Puerto Rico’s Madeline de Jesus came up lame while competing in the long jump, she was unable to run in the 4󗐀-meter relay at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. In a plot that could have been dreamed up in nearby Hollywood, Madeline enlisted her identical twin sister, Margaret, as an imposter for a qualifying heat. Margaret ran the second leg of the qualifier, and the team advanced. When the chief coach of the Puerto Rican team learned of the ruse, however, he pulled his team out of the final.

3. Fred Lorz.
Before thousands of cheering countrymen at the 1904 St. Louis Games, the American runner became the first competitor to cross the finish line of the marathon. One problem: Lorz had ridden 10 miles of the marathon course in an automobile after cramping up early in the race. After his car broke down, a rejuvenated Lorz ran the final 5 miles and entered the Olympic stadium before any of his fellow marathoners. The hoax, however, was quickly exposed, and Lorz readily admitted to his automotive assistance. (In another strange twist, the actual marathon winner, American Thomas Hicks, had been administered a stimulant𠅊 dose of strychnine, sulfate in egg whites and a swig of brandy𠅍uring the race. The performance enhancer, while potentially lethal, was within the rules in 1904.)

4. Spiridon Belokas.
Lorz wasn’t the first Olympic marathoner to hitch a ride, but at least he was a good enough cheat to seemingly win the race. Belokas, on the other hand, rode in a carriage for part of the inaugural Olympic marathon in Athens in 1896 but only managed to cross the line in third place. The Greek runner was disqualified, depriving the host country of sweeping the top three spots in the signature event of the Olympics.

5. Marion Jones.
The American sprinter and long jumper was the star of the 2000 Sydney Games as she captured three gold and two bronze medals, becoming the first woman to win five medals at a single Olympiad. Her feats, however, were under suspicion after news broke during the Games that husband C.J. Hunter, an American shot putter, had tested positive for steroids. Jones vehemently denied using performance enhancers. In 2007, Jones admitted she had used steroids prior to the Sydney Games, and she served a six-month sentence for lying to federal investigators. She was stripped of her Olympic medals.

6. Boris Onischenko.
It was a bit of high-tech skullduggery worthy of a Cold War spy novel that got Onischenko, a Soviet modern pentathlete and KGB colonel, thrown out of the 1976 Montreal Games. Onischenko, who had won two previous Olympic medals, rigged his fencing epee to falsely register a touch whenever he pushed a concealed button in the handle. The Soviet was foiled, so to speak, when the scoreboard recorded a hit while British captain Jim Fox was retreating and clearly untouched by the sword. Officials examined the epee and discovered the device.

7. Tunisian modern pentathlon team.
If at first you can’t succeed, cheat. Words to live by for the inept Tunisian modern pentathlon team in the 1960 Rome Games. In the first event, the entire team fell off their horses. One athlete almost drowned during the swimming competition, and the team was forced out of the shooting event after a team member nearly grazed the judges. For the fencing event, the Tunisians decided to secretly send out their expert swordsman each time and hoped no one looked behind the mask. The third time the same fencer came out, however, the hoax was discovered.

8. East German swimmers.
East Germany became an Olympic powerhouse in the pool in the 1970s and 1980s, and their incredible success𠅊long with certain physical characteristics—raised suspicions of steroid use. When a rival coach commented on the deep voices of many of East Germany’s female swimmers, an East German coach replied, “We came here to swim, not sing.” After the fall of the Berlin Wall, coaches from the women’s swimming team admitted in 1991 what many had long suspected—that East German swimmers systematically used steroids. In 2000, the former East German sports chief and his medical director were found guilty in a Berlin court of “systematic and overall doping in [East German] competitive sports.”

9. Dora Ratjen.
During the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the German finished fourth in the women’s high jump. After setting a women’s high jump record in 1938, a bombshell was uncovered—Ratjen was a man. Later in life, Horst Ratjen claimed the Nazis ordered him to pose as a woman 𠇏or the sake of the honor and glory of Germany.” He also reportedly said, 𠇏or three years I lived the life of a girl. It was most dull.”

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

Horse Racecourse In Ancient Olympia Discovered After 1600 Years

The site of the ancient hippodrome course in Olympia, where the emperor Nero competed for Olympian laurels, has been discovered. The hippodrome was discovered in Olympia by a research team that included Professor Norbert Müller (a sports historian from Mainz), Dr Christian Wacker (a sports archaeologist from Cologne) and PD Dr Reinhard Senff (chief excavator of the German Archaeological Institute - DAI.

"This discovery is an archaeological sensation," commented Norbert Müller of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. The research project extended over several weeks before being completed in the middle of May 2008.

Prior to this, the hippodrome had only been known from written sources. Archaeologists had failed to locate its actual site. This is surprising, as German archaeologists have been continuously excavating the site of where the ancient olympiad was held since 1875 this research has become a tradition and innumerable archaeologists, historians, and sports historians from all over the world have been involved in trying to solve this secret for over a hundred years.

Pausanias, a travel writer of the ancient world, described this course for horse races, its starting mechanisms, turning points and altars in much detail in the 2nd century AD: "If you climb over the stand of the stadion along the side where the hellanodikai are seated, you reach a terrain, where the horse races and the starting mechanism for the horses are located. The starting mechanism has the form of the prow of a ship, with the tip pointing to the race-track. Along the side where the prow touches the column of Agnaptos, it is broad. At the farthest tip of the prow there is placed a bronze dolphin on a pole (11) Both sides of the starting mechanism are more than 400 feet long and there are starting gates incorporated in them.

These starting gates are assigned by lot to the competitors in the horse races. A cable is stretched out as starting barrier before the chariots or the ridden horses. An altar of unbaked brick, plastered on the outside, is constructed every Olympiad in the centre of the prow. (12) On the altar there is an eagle with outstretched wings. The race director operates a device inside the altar. When it is put into motion, the eagle flies up, so that it is visible for the spectators, and the dolphin falls to the ground. (13) The first cables to fall down are those on both sides of the column of Agnaptos and the horses in these positions leave first.

They now draw level with those who have drawn the lot for the second place and the starting ropes are lowered here this procedure continues until all the horses are level in a row at the tip of the prow. At this point the drivers can begin to demonstrate their skills and the speed of their horses. (14) It was Kleoitas who invented the starting device and he was so proud of his invention that his statue in Athens bears the following inscription: "The first inventor of the starting mechanism for horses at Olympia made me: Kleoitas, son of Aristokles." It is said that a certain Aristeides modified this invention. (15) "The racecourse has one side longer than the other, and on the longer side, which is an earthen bank, there can be found, at the passage through the bank, Taraxippos, the Horse-Frightener." (Pausanias VI 20.10-15)

Another - previously unheeded - written source from the 11th century AD goes so far as to state the size and dimensions of the enclosure: "The olympiad has a course for horse races that [has a length of] 8 stadia. Each of the long sides is 3 stadia and 1 plethron long, while the width to the starting gates measures 1 stadion and 4 plethra, [a total of] 4800 feet. Near the Taraxippos, behind which - so it is said - there is concealed an ancient hero, the horses run around a turning post the finishing point of the race, however, is the pillar of Hippodameia. Among the horses, those in the foal category run a distance of 6 stadia, while those in the adult category run 12 stadia chariots with a pair of foals travel three times around the circuit and those with adult horses eight times chariots with four foals complete a total of eight circuits, while those with four adult horses complete 12 circuits." (Tabula Heroniana II, Fol. 27f.)

To date, it had been assumed that nothing of the hippodrome had survived, as the area described by Pausanias to the east of the sanctuary of Olympia has been flooded by the Alfeios River since ancient times and has become covered with silt. In modern plans and descriptions it is usually stated quite simply that "nothing remains of the hippodrome due to flooding in medieval times".

This served as an additional incentive for the German researchers: Using modern geophysical methods, they systematically searched the area for the first time. The experts Armin Grubert (Mainz) and Christian Hübner (Freiburg), who specialize in the use of geomagnetic and georadar techniques, were able to map soil disturbances such as water courses, ditches, and walls. Conspicuous, rectilinear structures were indeed discovered along a stretch of almost 1200 meters. The researchers believe this to be the racecourse, which ran parallel to the stadium. Structural remains identified as the temple of Demeter that is known to have been sited near the hippodrome were discovered in the northern part of the area investigated in the spring of 2007.

Of particular interest is the fact that at the halfway point of the northern access to the starting-gates - where Pausanias describes entering the hippodrome - there is a circular arrangement with a diameter of about 10 meters, clearly marked in the ancient soil layer, which could be the remains of the sacred structure described here by the ancient writer. The actual starting-gates, with boxes for up to 24 teams of horses, are most probably located under a gigantic pile of earth excavated by the archaeologists investigating the temple area since 1875.

The investigation of the area east of the sanctuary of Olympia, only made possible by the research funds provided by the Institute of Sports Science of the University of Mainz and the International Riding Association, has produced the first concrete indications of the location of the racecourse and its geographical dimensions.. Ten students were on hand to assist the sports historian Professor Norbert Müller, who is an authority on Olympia. "The DAI, with its branch in Athens, has done sports history a great service through its contribution," said Müller. "The project could become a new attraction for the sports world, similar to the excavation of the ancient Olympic stadium 50 years ago."

The area east of the sanctuary of Olympia had not been the subject of archaeological investigation before, although the ancient written sources show that this must have been the site of the largest construction, in area terms, built to host competitions. According to Pausanias, the hippodrome lay south of the now researched and reconstructed stadium, and must now be several meters below the current level. It is only here, between the adjoining hills on the other side of the road to Arcadia in the north and the bed of the Alfeios River in the south (which has since been straightened) that the topology is suitable for the accommodation of a racecourse with a length of more than one kilometer.

Nevertheless, the geological and geographical conditions are not favorable. On the one hand, intensive agricultural use has produced stark changes to the historical geography, and, on the other hand, the course of the Alfeios River, which once meandered through the plain, has changed several times over the centuries. The landscape in this area has changed so much that it is nearly impossible to reconstruct its appearance in ancient times. It is known today that the level of the river in medieval times was about 9 meters higher than in ancient times, but that about 7 meters of the deposited material has since been eroded and carried away by the river. This means that the ancient remains to the east of the sanctuary lie about 2 meters below the current level.

The racecourse described in such detail by Pausanias (Book VI 20.10-15) was located at this level. According to this author, the teams lined up in the shape of a prow of a ship in starting-gates in front of a hall the starting signal was a brass eagle that was raised and lowered by means of a hoisting mechanism, while a dolphin figure moved in front of the drivers. There was space for spectators along a wall on the southern side and along the adjoining hills to the north, but it seems that there were no stone stands similar to those of the great circuses in Rome or Carthage.

Various reconstructions have been based on Pausanias' description, with the racecourse usually assumed to be twice as wide as the starting-gates. However, it was only after a hand-written medieval document from the 11th century was correctly reinterpreted by J. Ebert in 1989 that the actual appearance and dimensions of the hippodrome became apparent. The complex had a length of 1052 meters and a width of 64 meters, not including the earth walls built for the spectators. The starting-gates stretched the full width of the racecourse.

Modern geomagnetic methods were used by a team of German scientists in April/May 2008 to explore the accessible terrain at the level described above. Two different physics-based techniques were used. Geomagnetic mapping of archaeological structures involves the accurate, high-resolution recording of the tiny magnetic anomalies in the earth's magnetic field that these cause. Such anomalies are usually caused by the presence of foundations, large stone objects or burnt layers. This technique was used in combination with georadar, a ground penetrating form of radar. In this electromagnetic technique, short impulses that each last only a few nanoseconds are radiated into the ground. These are reflected by the margins of different layers and by objects. A combination of the two methods can be used to detect anomalies and even to determine at what depth they are located in the ground. This makes it possible to determine within which layer (modern, medieval, ancient) the identified anomalies are probably located.

An area of 10.5 hectares was finecombed with geomagnetic mapping techniques, while georadar was used to investigate an area of 3.6 hectares. It was not always possible to penetrate the thick layers of fine sand, while the remains of decades of agriculture in the form of fences, channels and concrete structures also made results difficult to interpret.

Nevertheless, some significant finds were made. It appears that there was never extensive construction on the site. The innumerable channels extending to the northern perimeter of the area once defined the edges of terraces or water drainage conduits. The Alfeios River would have repeatedly flooded the entire area up to the foot of the hills. As the ancient level is approximately 2 meters below the current level, however, any remains will have been protected to some extent. This means that the parallel anomalies (ditches, walls, earthworks) identified along a length of almost 200 meters must represent the remains of the ancient hippodrome.

The hippodrome was thus sited parallel to the stadium and ended where there is a distinctive bend in the modern road at its eastern turning point. Approximately half-way along the northern access route to the starting-gates - where Pausanias entered the hippodrome - a circular stone formation with a diameter of about 10 metres was found in a layer dating from ancient times. Some remains that were most probably once buildings located on a terrace have been discovered near the road on the northern side of the hippodrome. As remains of a temple of Demeter have been discovered by Greek archaeologists in the immediate vicinity underneath the modern road, it now seems likely that this was the location described by Pausanias.

Hence, without any need for excavation, modern geomagnetic techniques have given us the first clear indications of the site of the hippodrome east of the sanctuary of Olympia. This means that archaeological and sports-historical research has come a little closer to solving one of the last great mysteries of Olympia.

The Ancient History of Cheating in the Olympics

News broke last week that despite a state-sponsored doping scheme, the Russian delegation would not be wholly disqualified from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Instead, individual athletes’ fates are being assessed by their respective sporting federations. Those without evidence of doping, it seems, will be able to compete – a far more lenient response from the International Olympic Committee than many might have expected. Moreover it’s more lenient than the IOC’s historical counterpart, the ancient Greek Olympic Council, likely would have handed down.

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Ancient Olympians didn’t have performance-enhancing drugs at their disposal, but according to those who know the era best, if the ancient Greeks could have doped, a number of athletes definitely would have. “We only know of a small number of examples of cheating but it was probably fairly common,” says David Gilman Romano, a professor of Greek archaeology at the University of Arizona. And yet the athletes had competing interests. “Law, oaths, rules, vigilant officials, tradition, the fear of flogging, the religious setting of the games, a personal sense of honor – all these contributed to keep Greek athletic contests clean,” wrote Clarence A. Forbes, a professor of Classics at Ohio State University, in 1952. “And most of the thousands of contests over the centuries were clean.”

That said, ancient Greeks proved to be creative in their competitiveness. Some attempted to jinx athletes to prevent their success. According to Romano, “curse tablets could be found in athletic contexts. For instance, strips of lead were inscribed with the curse, then folded up and placed in the floor at a critical part of the athletic facility.” 

Olympia in Ancient Greece (Immanuel Giel via Wikicommons)

Judging from the writings of the second-century A.D. traveler named Pausanias, however, most cheating in the ancient Olympics was related to bribery or foul play. Not coincidentally, the mythological basis of the Olympic games involves both, according to Romano’s writing.  The figure thought to have founded the Olympic Games, Pelops, did so as a celebration of his marriage and chariot victory over the wealthy king Oinomaos, spoils he only gained after bribing the king’s charioteer to sabotage the royal’s ride. The first Games are said to have been held in 776 B.C., though archeological evidence suggest they may have begun centuries earlier.

References to legendary instances of cheating have survived the centuries. A scene of a wrestler attempting to gouge the eyes of an opponent and bite him simultaneously, with an official poised to hit the double-offender with a stick or a rod, graces the side of a cup from roughly 490 B.C. In Greece today, pedestals that once held great statues still line pathways that led to ancient stadiums. But these were not statues that heralded athletic feats, rather they served as reminders of athletes and coaches who cheated. According to Patrick Hunt, a professor of archaeology at Stanford University, these monuments were funded by levies placed on athletes or on the city-states themselves by the ancient Olympic Council.

In Pausanias’ account, which is analyzed and translated in Forbes’ article, there were three main methods of dishonesty:

There are several stories of city-states trying to bribe top athletes to lie and claim that city-state as their own (a practice that continues in some form today, as the story of Dominica’s imported ski team from 2014 proves). When one athlete ran for Syracuse instead of his home city-state of Croton, the city of Croton tore down a statue of him and “seized his house for use as a public jail,” writes Forbes.

Then there was direct bribery between athletes or between those close to the athletes to influence the results. In 388 B.C., during the 98th Olympics, a boxer named Eupolus of Thessaly bribed three of his opponents to let him win. All four men were heavily fined, and up went six bronze statues of Zeus, four of which had inscriptions about the scandal and a warning to future athletes.

The Bases of Zanes at Olympia, Greece. Statues of Zeus were erected on these bases, paid for by fines imposed on those who were found to be cheating at the Olympic Games. The names of the athletes were inscribed on the base of each statue to serve as a warning to all. (Nmajdan via Wikicommns)

Finally, there were “fouls and forbidden tricks,” as Forbes refers to them. He references a fragment of a satirical play found, in which a group of performers claim to be comprised of athletes “skilled in wrestling, horse-racing, running, boxing, biting, and testicle-twisting.” Athletes were beaten with rods or flogged for fouling another player, for cheating to get an advantage, like starting early in a footrace, and for attempting to game the system that determined match-ups and byes.

And, it turns out, spectators did some cheating of their own, too. “One woman dressed as a man to see her son perform,” says Patrick Hunt. “She was caught and penalized.” Judges even ran into trouble at times. Forbes makes note of an instance in which officials voted to crown a member of their own city-state, an obvious conflict of interests. The judges were fined, but their decision was upheld. Once again, the modern Olympics haven’t been much different, for those who remember the 2002 Winter Games when a French judge gave Russian skaters high marks, allegedly in exchange for a Russian judge reciprocating for French ice dancers.

Entire city-states could get into trouble as well. In 420 B.C., according to Pausanias, Sparta was banned from the Olympics for violating a peace treaty, but one of their athletes entered the chariot race pretending to represent Thebes. He won, and in his elation, revealed who his true charioteer was. He was flogged and the victory was ultimately recorded as going to Thebes, with no mention of his name, which could be seen as an additional punishment (some records of Olympic victories have been discovered).

The modern events and global inclusivity of today’s Olympics may suggest how far we’ve come since ancient times, but scandals like the one playing out in Russia this summer remind us of what Patrick Hunt calls human nature: “We want an edge. Russian athletes may be banned from Brazil because of cheating, but people have always been looking for performance enhancing tricks.”

Ancient list on Papyrus 1185 of Olympic victors of the 75th to the 78th, and from the 81st to the 83rd Olympiads (Public Domain via Wikicommons)

About Naomi Shavin

Naomi Shavin is the editorial assistant for Smithsonian magazine.

Arnold Schwarzenegger – Mr. Olympia 1970-1975, 1980

Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger born July 30, 1947) is an Austrian-born American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Arnold served two terms as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was born in Thal, Austria, a small village bordering the Styrian capital Graz, and was christened Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger. His parents were the local police chief, Gustav Schwarzenegger (1907–1972), and Aurelia (née Jadrny 1922–1998). Gustav served in World War II, after he voluntarily applied to join the Nazi Party in 1938.

Gustav served with the German Army as a Hauptfeldwebel of the Feldgendarmerie and was discharged in 1943 after contracting malaria. They were married on October 20, 1945 – Gustav was 38, and Aurelia was 23-years-old. According to Schwarzenegger, both of his parents were very strict: “Back then in Austria it was a very different world, if we did something bad or we disobeyed our parents, the rod was not spared.” He grew up in a Roman Catholic family who attended Mass every Sunday.

Gustav had a preference for his older son, Meinhard, over Arnold. His favoritism was “strong and blatant,” which stemmed from unfounded suspicion that Arnold was not his biological child. Schwarzenegger has said his father had “no patience for listening or understanding your problems.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger had a good relationship with his mother and kept in touch with her until her death. In later life, Schwarzenegger commissioned the Simon Wiesenthal Center to research his father’s wartime record, which came up with no evidence of Gustav’s being involved in atrocities, despite Gustav’s membership in the Nazi Party and SA. Schwarzenegger’s father’s background received wide press attention during the 2003 California recall campaign. At school, Schwarzenegger was apparently in the middle but stood out for his “cheerful, good-humored and exuberant” character. Money was a problem in their household Schwarzenegger recalled that one of the highlights of his youth was when the family bought a refrigerator.

As a boy, Arnold Schwarzenegger played several sports, heavily influenced by his father. He picked up his first barbell in 1960, when his football (soccer) coach took his team to a local gym. At the age of 14, he chose bodybuilding over football as a career. Schwarzenegger has responded to a question asking if he was 13 when he started weightlifting: “I actually started weight training when I was 15, but I’d been participating in sports, like soccer, for years, so I felt that although I was slim, I was well-developed, at least enough so that I could start going to the gym and start Olympic lifting.” However, his official website biography claims: “At 14, he started an intensive training program with Dan Farmer, studied psychology at 15 (to learn more about the power of mind over body) and at 17, officially started his competitive career.” During a speech in 2001, he said, “My own plan formed when I was 14 years old. My father had wanted me to be a police officer like he was. My mother wanted me to go to trade school.” Schwarzenegger took to visiting a gym in Graz, where he also frequented the local movie theaters to see bodybuilding idols such as Reg Park, Steve Reeves, and Johnny Weissmuller on the big screen.

When Reeves died in 2000, Schwarzenegger fondly remembered him: “As a teenager, I grew up with Steve Reeves. His remarkable accomplishments allowed me a sense of what was possible, when others around me didn’t always understand my dreams. Steve Reeves has been part of everything I’ve ever been fortunate enough to achieve.” In 1961, Schwarzenegger met former Mr. Austria Kurt Marnul, who invited him to train at the gym in Graz.

He was so dedicated as a youngster that he broke into the local gym on weekends, when it was usually closed, so that he could train. “It would make me sick to miss a workout… I knew I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror the next morning if I didn’t do it.”
When Schwarzenegger was asked about his first movie experience as a boy, he replied: “I was very young, but I remember my father taking me to the Austrian theaters and seeing some newsreels. The first real movie I saw, that I distinctly remember, was a John Wayne movie.”
In 1971, his brother, Meinhard, died in a car accident. Meinhard had been drinking and was killed instantly. Schwarzenegger did not attend his funeral. Meinhard was due to marry Erika Knapp, and the couple had a three-year-old son, Patrick. Schwarzenegger would pay for Patrick’s education and help him to immigrate to the United States. Gustav died the following year from a stroke. In Pumping Iron, Schwarzenegger claimed that he did not attend his father’s funeral because he was training for a bodybuilding contest. Later, he and the film’s producer said this story was taken from another bodybuilder for the purpose of showing the extremes that some would go to for their sport and to make Schwarzenegger’s image more cold and machine-like in order to fan controversy for the film. Barbara Baker, his first serious girlfriend, has said he informed her of his father’s death without emotion and that he never spoke of his brother. Over time, he has given at least three versions of why he was absent from his father’s funeral.

In an interview with Fortune in 2004, Schwarzenegger told how he suffered what “would now be called child abuse” at the hands of his father: “My hair was pulled. I was hit with belts. So was the kid next door. It was just the way it was. Many of the children I’ve seen were broken by their parents, which was the German-Austrian mentality. They didn’t want to create an individual. It was all about conforming. I was one who did not conform, and whose will could not be broken. Therefore, I became a rebel. Every time I got hit, and every time someone said, ‘you can’t do this,’ I said, ‘this is not going to be for much longer, because I’m going to move out of here. I want to be rich. I want to be somebody.'”
Schwarzenegger served in the Austrian Army in 1965 to fulfill the one year of service required at the time of all 18-year-old Austrian males. During his army service, he won the Junior Mr. Europe contest. He went AWOL during basic training so he could take part in the competition and spent a week in military prison: “Participating in the competition meant so much to me that I didn’t carefully think through the consequences.” He won another bodybuilding contest in Graz, at Steirer Hof Hotel (where he had placed second). He was voted best built man of Europe, which made him famous. “The Mr. Universe title was my ticket to America – the land of opportunity, where I could become a star and get rich.” Schwarzenegger made his first plane trip in 1966, attending the NABBA Mr. Universe competition in London. He would come in second in the Mr. Universe competition, not having the muscle definition of American winner Chester Yorton.

Charles “Wag” Bennett, one of the judges at the 1966 competition, was impressed with Schwarzenegger and he offered to coach him. As Schwarzenegger had little money, Bennett invited him to stay in his crowded family home above one of his two gyms in Forest Gate, London, England. Yorton’s leg definition had been judged superior, and Schwarzenegger, under a training program devised by Bennett, concentrated on improving the muscle definition and power in his legs. Staying in the East End of London helped Schwarzenegger improve his rudimentary grasp of the English language. Also in 1966, Schwarzenegger had the opportunity to meet childhood idol Reg Park, who became his friend and mentor. The training paid off and, in 1967, Schwarzenegger won the title for the first time, becoming the youngest ever Mr. Universe at the age of 20. He would go on to win the title a further three times. Schwarzenegger then flew back to Munich, training for four to six hours daily, attending business school and working in a health club (Rolf Putzinger’s gym where he worked and trained from 1966–1968), returning in 1968 to London to win his next Mr. Universe title. He frequently told Roger C. Field, his English coach and friend in Munich at that time, “I’m going to become the greatest actor!”

Schwarzenegger, who dreamed of moving to the U.S. since the age of 10, and saw bodybuilding as the avenue through which to do so, he realized his dream by moving to the United States in September 1968 at the age of 21, speaking little English. There he trained at Gold’s Gym in Venice, Los Angeles, California, under Joe Weider. From 1970 to 1974, one of Schwarzenegger’s weight training partners was Ric Drasin, a professional wrestler who designed the original Gold’s Gym logo in 1973. Schwarzenegger also became good friends with professional wrestler “Superstar” Billy Graham. In 1970, at age 23, he captured his first Mr. Olympia title in New York, and would go on to win the title a total of seven times.

Immigration law firm Siskind & Susser have stated that Schwarzenegger may have been an illegal immigrant at some point in the late 1960s or early 1970s because of violations in the terms of his visa. LA Weekly would later say in 2002 that Schwarzenegger is the most famous immigrant in America, who “overcame a thick Austrian accent and transcended the unlikely background of bodybuilding to become the biggest movie star in the world in the 1990s”.

In 1977, Schwarzenegger’s autobiography/weight-training guide Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder was published and became a huge success. After taking English classes at Santa Monica College in California, he earned a BA by correspondence from the University of Wisconsin–Superior, where he graduated with a degree in international marketing of fitness and business administration in 1979.
Schwarzenegger is considered among the most important figures in the history of bodybuilding, and his legacy is commemorated in the Arnold Classic annual bodybuilding competition. Schwarzenegger has remained a prominent face in the bodybuilding sport long after his retirement, in part because of his ownership of gyms and fitness magazines. He has presided over numerous contests and awards shows.
For many years, he wrote a monthly column for the bodybuilding magazines Muscle & Fitness and Flex. Shortly after being elected Governor, he was appointed executive editor of both magazines, in a largely symbolic capacity. The magazines agreed to donate $250,000 a year to the Governor’s various physical fitness initiatives. When the deal, including the contract that gave Schwarzenegger at least $1 million a year, was made public in 2005, many criticized it as being a conflict of interest since the governor’s office made decisions concerning regulation of dietary supplements in California. Today many bodybuilders now use CBD protein powder. Consequently, Schwarzenegger relinquished the executive editor role in 2005. American Media Inc., which owns Muscle & Fitness and Flex, announced in March 2013 that Schwarzenegger had accepted their renewed offer to be executive editor of the magazines.

Schwarzenegger’s goal was to become the greatest bodybuilder in the world, which meant becoming Mr. Olympia. His first attempt was in 1969, when he lost to three-time champion Sergio Oliva. However, Schwarzenegger came back in 1970 and won the competition, making him the youngest ever Mr. Olympia at the age of 23, a record he still holds to this day.

He continued his winning streak in the 1971–74 competitions. In 1975, Schwarzenegger was once again in top form, and won the title for the sixth consecutive time, beating Franco Columbu. After the 1975 Mr. Olympia contest, Schwarzenegger announced his retirement from professional bodybuilding.

Months before the 1975 Mr. Olympia contest, filmmakers George Butler and Robert Fiore persuaded Schwarzenegger to compete, in order to film his training in the bodybuilding documentary called Pumping Iron. Schwarzenegger had only three months to prepare for the competition, after losing significant weight to appear in the film Stay Hungry with Jeff Bridges. Lou Ferrigno proved not to be a threat, and a lighter-than-usual Schwarzenegger convincingly won the 1975 Mr. Olympia.

Schwarzenegger came out of retirement, however, to compete in the 1980 Mr. Olympia. Schwarzenegger was training for his role in Conan, and he got into such good shape because of the running, horseback riding and sword training, that he decided he wanted to win the Mr. Olympia contest one last time. He kept this plan a secret, in the event that a training accident would prevent his entry and cause him to lose face. Schwarzenegger had been hired to provide color commentary for network television, when he announced at the eleventh hour that while he was there: “Why not compete?” Schwarzenegger ended up winning the event with only seven weeks of preparation. After being declared Mr. Olympia for a seventh time, Schwarzenegger then officially retired from competition.

One of the first competitions he won was the Junior Mr. Europe contest in 1965. He won Mr. Europe the following year, at age 19. He would go on to compete in, and win, many bodybuilding contests. His bodybulding victories included five Mr. Universe (4 – NABBA [England], 1 – IFBB [USA]) wins, and seven Mr. Olympia wins, a record which would stand until Lee Haney won his eighth consecutive Mr. Olympia title in 1991.

Bodybuilding titles

1963 Steirer Hof Competition in Graz, Austria (runner up).
1965 Junior Mr. Europe in Germany
1966 Best-Built Athlete of Europe in Germany
1966 International Powerlifting Championship in Germany
1966 Mr. Europe – amateur in Germany.
1966 NABBA Mr. Universe – amateur in London, England
1967 NABBA Mr. Universe – amateur in London, England
1968 German Powerlifting Championship in Germany
1968 IFBB Mr. International in Tijuana, Mexico
1968 NABBA Mr. Universe – professional in London, England
1968 IFBB Mr. Universe in Miami, Florida (tall class winner)
1969 IFBB Mr. Universe in New York
1969 IFBB Mr. Olympia in New York (2nd place to Sergio Olivia)
1969 NABBA Mr. Universe – professional in London, England
1969 IFBB Mr. Europe – professional in Germany
1970 NABBA Mr. Universe – professional in London, England
1970 AAU Pro Mr. World in Columbus, Ohio
1970 IFBB Mr. Olympia in New York
1971 IFBB Mr. Olympia in Paris, France
1972 IFBB Mr. Olympia in Essen, Germany
1973 IFBB Mr. Olympia in New York
1974 IFBB Mr. Olympia in New York
1975 IFBB Mr. Olympia in Pretoria, South Africa
1980 IFBB Mr. Olympia in Sydney, Australia

Arnold Schwarzenegger IFBB Pro by Evolution of Bodybuilding | Bodybuilding Archives | Mr Olympia History

The Nymphaeum of Herodes Atticus

On its north side, the sacred yard of Altis reaches the slope of Cronion. Here excavations revealed a long terrace on which there stood the thesauroi, a row of shrines designed to hold the votive offerings dedicated to Olympia by the cities of Greece, and those of its colonies in particular.

On the west end of the terrace stood the Nymphaeum of Herodes Atticus, built in the IInd century AD. This is a ornamental fountain which collected the waters of a big aqueduct originating in the nearby mountains, consisting of a rectangular basin and a larger semicircular one, the curved wall of which contained evenly spaced columns and niches containing statues of members of the Roman Imperial Antonine dynasty and of the family of Herodes Atticus.

© Photo credits by Ronny Siegel under CC-BY-2.0

The most impressive of these statues is that of the wife of Herodes Atticus, Annia Regilla.

As priestess of Demeter, she donated a statue of a bull to the sanctuary: this was also originally located in the nymphaeum, and is now kept in the Olympia Museum.

Do you want to know more about Olympia and the history of Greece?

Check out our guidebook to Ancient Greece, with detailed history and Past & Present images of the Acropolis, the Parthenon, Olympia and all the greatest historical and archaeological sites of Ancient Greece.

Zane is inspired by Ben Pakulski – a Canadian IFBB professional bodybuilder and winner of the 2008 Mr. Canada competition. He enjoys reading about his scientific approach to bodybuilding, and has trained with him on a number of occasions.

Dorian Yates is another idol which he has learned a lot from. The high intensity approach that Dorian followed, has worked very well for Zane.

The Zanes, Olympia - History

Statue of Discus Thrower
Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen

The Greeks started the Olympic Games almost 3000 years ago in 776 BC. They were held nearly every four years for over a thousand years until they were stopped in 393 AD.

Who competed in the Ancient Olympic games?

In order to participate, athletes had to be a free man (no slaves) who spoke Greek. There may have also been a rule about age. Apparently they wanted the athletes to be youthful, or at least youthful looking. From what we know, athletes were supposed to only be men, however, there are records of at least one woman winning an event, probably as an owner in a chariot race. Before the start of the games, athletes also had to take a vow to Zeus that they had been training for ten months.

The winners of the games were considered heroes. They got olive branches for winning, but also became famous. Sometimes they received large sums of money from their home town.

Where were the games held?

The Olympic Games were held in Olympia, hence the name Olympics. They were held there because the gods lived on Mount Olympus and the games were in honor of the king of the gods, Zeus. Athletes would travel to Olympia from many different Greek city-states and sometimes from far away Greek colonies to compete.

Ancient Olympic Events

The original Olympics had fewer events than what we have at the modern Olympics today. At the first Olympics there was only a single event. It was called the stadion and was a running race that went the length of the stadium, or around 200 meters. It wasn't until the 14th Olympics that they added in a second event. It was another running event that was one lap around the stadium around 400 meters.

More events were added over the next several Olympics. These events included more running races of different lengths, wrestling, chariot racing, boxing, and the pentathlon. The pentathlon combined the total scores of five events: long jump, discus throw, javelin throw, a stadion race, and wrestling.

Some of the events had similar names to events we have today, but had different rules and requirements. For example, in the long jump, jumpers used hand weights to help propel their bodies forward. Also, boxing and wrestling were very dangerous events with few rules. In boxing you could hit the opponent while they were down and the match didn't stop until one fighter gave up or died. It wasn't a good idea to kill your opponent, however, as the dead boxer was given the victory.

Politics and Religion

Religion played a big part in the games. Eventually the games lasted five days with the first and last day devoted to honoring the gods. One hundred oxen were sacrificed to Zeus during the games. Politics played a role in the games as well. During the games a truce was observed between warring city-states. Athletes were allowed to pass through enemy territory to get to the games.

Watch the video: 1980 Frank Zane (August 2022).