Text by Charles McCollum
Illustrations by Jim Hummel

It all started, according to legend, with a simple 200-yard race near the town of Olympia in southern Greece. By 776 B.C., the "Olympiads" -- as they were called then -- had become a national event and a great source of civic and provincial pride among the Greeks. The original Games lasted until A.D. 394, when they were banned by the Roman Emperor Theodosius. The Games were revived in 1896. And -- with the exception of the world war years -- the Olympics have been held every four years since.