The first ever Olympic Games were held in 1896 in Athens, Greece. The 1895 summer Olympics had 9 sports; athletics, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, swimming, tennis, weightlifting and wrestling. The Olympic Games began over 2,700 years ago in Olympia, in southwest Greece. The Games were part of a religious festival. The Greek Olympics, thought to have begun in 776 BC, inspired the modern Olympic Games (begun in 1896). The Olympics were held in honour of Zeus, king of the gods, and were held every four years at Olympia, a valley near the city Elis. People from all over the world came to watch and take part.
Only men, boys and unmarried girls were allowed to go to the Olympic Games. Married women were not allowed into the Olympic Games. If a married women was caught sneaking in they were punished! Women however could own horses in the chariot race. Unmarried women had their own festival at Olympia every four years. This was called the Heraia, held in honour of Hera, the wife of Zeus. Unmarried women could compete in running races. Winners were awarded crowns of sacred olive branches, the same as men.