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Introduction

The athletic ideal, according to which winners were rewarded a branch of tree as a prize, the concept of good sportsmanship and the ideal of a “healthy mind in a healthy body” were born and spread in Ancient Greece during the Archaic period, although sports and games already took place in the Minoan and Mycenaean period. The most important Panhellenic athletic event was the Olympic Games, which were recorded from 776 B.C., and were used as a common means of dating by the ancient Greeks. Every city had to offer a Gymnasium (gym) and most times a Palaestra (wrestling arena) and a Stadium. The Greeks designed highly innovative devices in the field of sports technology, e.g. the halteres (dumbbells) for jumpers and the leather straps for javelin throwers in order to improve performance, as well as all kinds of mechanisms used to prevent the athletes from a false start. Τhe most important invention was the hippaphesis of Kleoitas, an ingenious mechanical device that allowed the different in time but fair start of chariots and horses in the chariot races at the hippodrome of Ancient Olympia.