Legend has it and records from the Greek Antiquity show that the Olympics were founded by Heracles, the son of Zeus. Written records show that the first game was held about 776 BC where Coroebus, a cook from Elis, won the 192 meters naked running competition making him the winner of the sole event. Nowadays, almost in all organized game competitions such as SEA Games, Olympics, school intramurals and other locally-organized festivities, running has always been present to complete the list of sports events.
These days, running and jogging are such popular sporting events that a number of athletes are vying for fame, fortune and title. There have been several people who helped shape the history of running as a sport. Englishmen Roger Bannister, the first ever to run a mile in less than four minutes, set the first record on May 6, 1954 at Iffley Road Track in Oxford and witnessed by about 3,000 spectators. Being the inaugural recipient of the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 1955 and 1954 Sportsman of the Year and a distinguished neurologist who is highly acknowledged for his outstanding effort and major contribution in the field of academic medicine called autonomic failures, up until now, he continues to inspire runners. The feat of Bannister, however, will never be surpassed by any other athlete as Bannister will always hold the record to be the “first” and whoever comes next will only be called the second.
Another figure who contributed to the colorful history of running as a sport was American James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens who won four gold medals during the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics where he left the 110,000 Berlin crowd and athletes in awe and astonishment winning one medal each in the 100 and 200 meters, long jump and as a member of the relay team. He was also the first African-American to benefit the sponsorship of Adidas athletic shoe company, founded by Adi Dassler. Despite the honor and fame he brought to America, he was not given any recognition or bestowed honors by the then President Roosevelt or successor President Truman. It was only during President Eisenhower’s time that he was named Ambassador of Sports in 1955. Like Bannister, Owens also held the record for being the “first” in his own way.
Staying on the tracks doesn’t have to drive you to endless and harrowing training as you can run without having to compete for titles, fame and fortune. You too can be inspired by Bannister and Owens without necessarily joining competitions as running can be a tool to improve physical condition and at the same time an avenue to develop interpersonal relationships.