Physics and the Olympics
Daniel Lenord
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Physics 211 Web Project, Fall 2002

Index  |  100-meter Dash  |  Javelin  |  Pole Vault  |  Bibliography  

Olympic Race

   The Olympics are fabled to have originated from a Greek myth, in which Hercules won a race at Olympia, a plain in the small state of Elis, and then decreed that the race should be enacted every four years. The more likely story is that the Olympic festival was a local religious event until 884 BC, when Iphitus, the king of Elis, decided to turn it into a broader festival. To accomplish that, he entered into a temporary truce with other rulers, allowing athletes and others to travel peacefully to Olympia while the festival was going on. In 776 BC, the Greeks based their chronology on four-year periods, called Olympiads, and the Olympic festival marked the beginning of each Olympiad.

Today, the Olympics are still held every four years, and advanced in technology and fitness training have enhanced world records to the absolute maximum. All Olympic sports have experienced major changes over the years, but here I will discuss a few of the more famous Olympic events; the 100-meter dash, the javelin throw, and the pole vault.