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Sprinter on a vase from Rhodes and a bronze running girl

The greatest Olympic runner of all was Leonidas of Rhodes who won all three running events at each of the four successive Olympiads between 164 and 152 BC. Women competed in foot races at Olympia, but these were not part of the Olympic Games. © Trustees of the British Museum. Created by British Museum.

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Video transcript

this file shows a sprinter we know he's a sprinter because of the way his arms and legs are going furiously to and fro and this kind of windmill pose was what was conventionally used to show speed in antiquity the vars was made in East Greece between about 515 525 BC the sprint was the most important race in the Olympics in fact it was the only event for the first 13 Olympiads and it was so important that the Greeks kept their calendar based on the names of the winners in that race on the other side of the rowers there's another runner and a similar pose so they're actually chasing each other endlessly around the pot this is a little of bronze figure of a running girl and it's interesting and important because women were not allowed to compete at the ancient Olympics and in fact for some of the history of the games they weren't even allowed to watch but women did actually have their own contests at Olympia but at a different time of year