The Greek Olympics

The Nemean Games
The 2012 Olympics in London are over and, according to a couple of Oxford scholars, this year’s 17 day extravaganza cost USD14.8 billion.

Cities from around the globe vie to host the games not only for the honor but for a reason to justify  spending huge amounts of public and private funds to make major improvements in the host city. A report has already calculated the 2016 games in Rio will bring in $3.26 for every US$1 spent.

Sadly, today’s games barely resemble the original Olympics that began in Greece in 776 BC. That said, there actually is an Olympics held every four years at the same spot of the ancient tradition.

Just a month before the London event the Nemean Games were held – where else, in Nemea. The revival of the Ancient Games began in 1996.There were only two events: a 100 meters sprint and an endurance race of 7.5 km (.62 miles) starting at the ruins of the temple of Heracles at ancient Kleonai and ending at the ancient stadium of Nemea.

Amateur athletes from 4 to 82 years young are grouped by age and gender and run barefoot wearing ancient white chitons (tunics).

According to Stephen Miller, one of the founders of The Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games, “These games are about celebrating participation, and barefoot running is one sport that almost everyone can tackle. We get a fair number of contestants in their 80s and 90s. And there is no timekeeping.”

Anyway, this year there were 1,020 participants from 106 countries!

The lucky winners received palm branches and crowns of wild celery and were honored at a post-race feast.

The whole point is to have good fun in the spirit of a time when the games were open to all and were about the joy of participating.

Enjoy John Farnham, former lead singer with Little River Band – Playing to Win: