A Diary Entry of an Olympian
An Olympian undergoes various experiences whilst intending to compete within the Olympics – who knows why? One would say that it is the expectations of your entire city-state resting on your shoulders; another would say that is the fact that those of Greek ethnicity would be watching you fulfil your ambitions and desires. Despite the infinite number of opinions on this matter, what I think, is what truly matters to me, as you will come to see.
Leading up until the 10-month training period, I had not enacted much intense training to keep within an athlete condition, with my preparation merely being completing the duties I had on my family’s farm – as well as the occasional jog around the fields. This had served as an excellent off-season training programme; but this had not lasted as when the actual 10 months had come to pass, all that my mind was set on was how I was going to prepare for the auspicious event. During this duration, I had put myself on a strict diet of cheese and meat (from the animals in my family’s farm, otherwise it would’ve been too expensive); both were great sources of protein. I had also focused on the fitness of my body through bodyweight exercises and acrobatics. At the time, I had thought one could not enact more intense training than what I had been doing – upon arriving at Elis (with only one month to the games), I was proved terribly wrong.
At Elis, our training and diets were monitored by the then judges of the games, called the Hellanodikai (who were citizens of Elis, picked at random) – each split into three groups, which each group specifying in a certain sport; with one chief Hellanodikai overseeing all the other groups. Much of the training which the Olympians had undergone, was in either the Palaistra or the Gymnasium – or as I liked to refer to them: ‘The domain of Hades’ (means ‘hell on earth’). The Gymnasium itself was equipped with for the running events – with a track the same length of the stadium, 192.28 metres – as well as the outdoor courtyard being large enough for throwing both discus and javelin; within the Palaistra there was a long room – ideal for jumping – as well as the Coryceum – which featured an indoor training area for wrestlers and a punching-bag for boxers. Due to me being a Pentathlon competitor, I had spent an equal amount of time in both facilities; in the Gymnasium, I had trained for the Stadion, discus and javelin, and in the Palaistra I had trained for the wrestling and the long-jump.
With 2 days left until the games commenced, all of those in Elis had set off to Olympia (approximately 58 km). The first to travel were the Hellanodikai and the officials, who were then followed by us athletes and our trainers (who were past champions). We had spent the night before the games at Letrini. Whilst heading up the mountain to Olympia, upon looking down I saw a sea of potential spectators, as well as many merchants and businessmen – each hoping to make money off the Pelops (or Hercules) founded games.
The first day of the Olympics was rather boring, but no less important that the others. This is due to on this day, us athletes and the Hellanodikai were to swear an oath to the God of Zeus, specifically Zeus Horkios (due to that being his deity of oaths and judgment). The rest of the day had just gotten worse, with religious festivals (or as I see it: formalities) had taken place. This consisted of the athletes having to go to the Altis, a sacred olive-grove, and to one of many alters; as well as us presenting offerings to the Zeus (king), Hermes (speed), Apollo (prophecy) and Hercules (seen as the ideal athlete), in which we prayed for victory. Despite me partaking in such things, I viewed these as mere formalities due to the relationship between us mortals and the Olympian gods, is purely just a bargain – we give them praise and our finest belongings, and they provide us with the strength to continue and good fortune.
The second day was my most anticipated, due to the fact that I had to compete within it. The day itself had started with the equestrian events; this had lasted for the entirety of the morning. As a child my father had taken me to watch the Olympics, and during the chariot races, he had told me the story of Pelops, and how he had founded the games due to him having cheated whilst racing King Oinomnos (in which he placed wax on the string which has attached to Oinomnos’ wheel, in turn killing him), in order to marry his daughter). It was a shame that I had to miss the events, but I had spent them training for the afternoon – in which the pentathlon was to take place. The competitions had moved from the hippodrome (venue of equestrian events) to the stadium, due to the pentathlon.
Upon walking through the gates of the stadium, I heard roar of cries, each shouting my name, for I was representing Rhodes – home to famous Olympians, like Leonidas and Diagoras – in what was seen as the most imperative event of games… the Pentathlon. The first sport to commence was that of discus. A line of us athletes had walked up to the pedestal, reached for our disc-shaped projectile, and launched it as far as we can. We watched them saw across the skies, with the whistling of the wind in its path. Then, suddenly, the fell dead in their tracks; with the furthest being, mine; placing me the victor of the first sport. This was directly followed by Javelin, an event which I had struggled with the most. Before I had realised, the second sport had concluded, with the Athenian representative being the victor; leading to the third event… long-jump. I had done little practice in the, as I viewed it as a waste of time, leading me to lose this event, once again to the Athenian competitor. The fourth event was wrestling, a sport which I was a natural at, due to the manual labour I carried out on my family’s farm. The Athenian and I were pit in the ring together, immediately I had grabbed his torso, pulling him down, and in turn winning that event. With both of us harbouring two wins, I had come down to the Stadion as the deciding factor. Upon hearing the Hellanodikai beckon us to go, we launched across the track, sweat running down our forehead, and both with a desire to win. The end of the track was in our sights, and we were both neck-in-neck, until I had placed the wrong footing, and tripped; placing me face first in the dirt track; making my Athenian rival the victor; ripping the right of both me and my city-state, out of our grasps.
As I said earlier, an Olympian endures many experiences, as you would’ve now come to see; and my reason for this is that we will do anything to win. Unfortunately, I had not done enough to provide evidence for my reasoning, as I had not won the Olympics. For all my efforts, I had not succeeded in my one, true, goal. Due to this I no longer harbour the right to live; from now on I shall spend the rest of my days with Hades…