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From 776 BC, the games were held in Olympia every four years for almost twelve centuries.Additional athletic events were gradually added until, by the fifth century BC, the religious festival consisted of a five-day program.The marathon was not an event of the ancient Olympic Games.The marathon is a modern event that was first introduced in the Modern Olympic Games of 1896 in Athens, a race from Marathon—northeast of Athens—to the Olympic Stadium, a distance of 42.195 kilometers.The race commemorates the run of Pheidippides, an ancient “day runner” who carried the news of the Persian landing at Marathon of 490 BC to Sparta (a distance of 149 miles) in order to enlist help for the battle.According to the fifth-century BC ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Pheidippides delivered the news to the Spartans the next day.Many athletes also turned away from ITA competition because it disqualified them from participating in future Olympic Games.
If charged with professionalism, athletes could be banned from competition for life.The first NCAA national championships were held for men in 1921, and women’s track and field became part of the Olympic Games in 1928. and Soviet teams battled in one of the sport’s longest and most competitive rivalries.In 1952, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) sent its first Olympic team ever to the Summer Games in Helsinki, Finland, where the squad captured several track-and-field medals. Women’s track struggled for widespread acceptance until the 1970s, when track and field as a whole enjoyed a boom in popularity. S.-based International Track Association (ITA) organized a professional track circuit.Other evidence, both literary and archaeological, suggests that the games may have existed at Olympia much earlier than this date, perhaps as early as the tenth or ninth century BC.A series of bronze tripods have been found at Olympia, some of which appear to be dated at about the ninth century BC, and it has also been suggested that these tripods may in fact be prizes for some of the early events at Olympia.