CAIRO – 5 July 2022: The Egyptian sprinter Bassant Hemieda's win of two golds in the Mediterranean Games had us thinking about the history of athletics in Egypt.
The truth is that running, walking, jumping, and shooting are the origins of sports in the world, with the oldest evidence of athletics dating back to 3800 BC in Memphis of ancient Egypt. Athletics has persisted in various forms from the ancient Olympics to highly organized competitions today.
Ancient Egypt hosted a number of sprint races, usually ceremonial in nature rather than competitive, although there appears to be evidence of small, informal competitions.
One of these celebrations has occupied a place in Egyptian culture since its very early beginning - as early as 3000 BC - in a festival called “heb sed," which celebrated the reign of the pharaoh. One of the main events of this festival was the race in which the pharaoh competed only to prove that he was still physically fit to rule.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Egyptian and Asian civilizations are known to have encouraged athletics in pre-B.C. The most notable example of this is the Greek Olympic Games, dating back to 776 B.C. These ancient Olympics were men's business only, both for the participants and for the spectators. Greek women were famous for forming their own Hera Games, which, like the Olympic Games, were held every 4 years.
However, the development of this sport recently did not come until the early 19th century, when organized amateur competitions were held in England as early as 1825 AD.