Holding his arms square to his face in an effort to block any oncoming blows, he dodges around his opponent, worthy but still no match for this great fighter. Though aging, his experience tells him what to do. With a fake, a jab, and a devastating upper cut, the “old man” releases his opponent from the competition and is so crowned with the laurel wreath. He is an Olympian... for the sixth time in a row. His name is Milo of Kroton.
Although the above description of the fight is fictitious, the ancient boxer Milo of Kroton reportedly competed in six straight Olympics games, finally losing when he was well over forty years of age. And so it is, we see the modern Olympics beginning again in London, England nearly 3000 years since they first began.
I want first of all to congratulate all of the athletes who have trained so hard to get to this point. The years of training, the hardships, the mental endurance and physical stamina needed is unfathomable. But to get to this point in one's career is to have a chance of being immortalized not only in name, but by their reputation known to politicians, artists, and athletes alike.
But the pay off, should an athlete win, is nothing short of glorious and a chance at immortality. With the Olympics records tracked by just about everybody in the world, your name, the athlete's name, will go down in history as having conquered the sports world in that sport. The American Michael Phelps winning a slew of medals, Canadian sprinter Donovan Bailey shattering the world record in the 100 metre race so many years ago, the former Soviet countries competing, and winning, for the first time after the USSR fell. The Olympians and their accomplishments mark the pages of history forever.
Though the Olympics are believed to have started around 776 BC with some dispute over who actually started the games, they were held every four years until 436 when Emperor Theodosius splashed cold water on the party, reinforcing Christianity as the empire's religion and eliminating one of the greatest sporting events in ancient times. But it is through the legend the athletes created by winning that writers preserve the names of Olympic champions. Winners such as Milo of Kroton, Theagenes of Thasos, or Diagoras of Rhodes all dominated the sport of boxing at different times of the ancient Olympics.
Re-established in 1896 in Athens, the games have been going strong for over a century with a few blemishes due to war time. Sadly, the tradition of hostilities being called off for the duration of the games didn't happen and so now we have no victors for the years of World War 2. But the glory lives on, the Olympics being the largest sporting event in the world. So here's to you, athletes all, take up the challenge and step into the pages of history as an Olympian. Glory is yours for the taking!