(Nemea, Greece) – Athletes on Saturday took place in the Sixth Modern Nemean Games in Nemea, Greece, at the site of the ancient Nemean Games despite a slight delay because of the rain. Top athletes from all over the world traveled to Nemea in order to undergo a friendly competition in the tradition of the ancient games that took place in Nemea all those centuries ago. The athletes, who all wore togas and competed in the race in their bare feet, were part of a partial reenactment of the ancient games, which attracts athletes of all ages. This year, the athletes were as young as 5 years and as old as 89 years. The athletes competed in the events in their specific age brackets. There are actually only two events – the 90-meter spring and the 7.5 kilometer run.
Part of the draw of this reenactment is that athletes have the ability to experience history while they do it. The course for the 90-meter sprint, for instance, is 2300 years old. Not only that, but the 7.5 kilometer run takes the athletes through the ancient olive groves in Nemea and the surrounding area. This particular region is where Hercules in ancient mythology is said to have slayed the Nemean lion. Each competitor is required to take an oath, and a horn is sounded by a boy in tradition garb, complete with a handmade crown made out of a laurel branch, the same way they were done in the original Nemean Games.
There were four Panhellenic Games in Ancient Greece, and the Nemean Games were one of them. They were held approximately every two or three years. The Modern Nemean Games began in 1996 and are held every four years to coincide with the Modern Olympic Games, which will be taking place this summer in Rio de Janeiro. The Society for the Revival of the Nemean Games was founded in 1994 in order to revive the ancient Nemean Games and after some planning, they held their first modern games two years later.