Olympia, Greece by Martin Searle

Olympia, Greece

Set on a hill surrounded by wild olive trees can be found these stone slabs. These slabs may look plain and without structure or gravitas but the hill is in the Western Peloponnese and the stone slabs, or balbis, are on Mount Olympia the birthplace of the Olympic Games. Legend has it that the hero Hercules designed a straight course, 192.28 metres long, and a cook by the name of Koroibos from the nearby town of Elis won the first race there. The winner achieved fame and was presented with a simple wild olive wreath ring as his prize. The Olympic Games can be traced back to 776 BC although similar festivals would have been held prior to this date. The original stadium where Koroibos won his race has not been found but this photograph is of the starting line from a stadium dated to the 5th century BC. The competitors had a standing start and placed their feet on the blocks for extra grip. These simple grooved stones in Ancient Greece are the beginning of the greatest games of all time.