Fortius, remember?

On the anniversary of the first modern Olympics held in 1896, let us take a moment to remember one of the ancient Olympians, Leonidas of Rhodes who achieved a staggering 12 Olympic victories. This is a feat that has never been equalled in the competitions since then. Even Flying Fish Michael Phelps has only 11 individual Olympic gold medals.
Old Leo was a runner who won the wreath in three categories at the 164, 160, 156 and 152 Olympic Games. He is remarkable not only for his long career—he won his final Olympic event at 36—but also his range of skills. He won sprint races like the stadion and diaulos but was also strong enough to win the hoplitodromos, an endurance race in which contestants ran in full armour while carrying a shield. The shield or hoplon alone weighed about 25 kilos thanks to its three layers of leather (nearest to its bearer), wood and bronze.
The hoplitodromos was usually the last event in the Olympics and about 800 metres or two stades in length. It was an event that was more military training than fun and had been introduced in 520 BC after the Greeks faced Persian archers a couple of years earlier. Even the 400 metre length of a single stade is approximately the range or reach of a Persian arrow.
This probably goes to show that sports and war are never that far from each other. Fortius, remember?


Athletes in the hoplitodromos


This entry was posted in A Good Thing, Great Men of the past, Sport and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s