Chionis of Sparta

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Chionis of Sparta (/ˈk.ɵnɨs/; Greek Χιόνις) was an athlete of ancient Greece who was most notable for his jumping records in the ancient Olympic Games. Records suggest that in the 656 BC Olympics Chionis jumped a then record of 7 meters and 5 centimetres. If accurate, such a record would have won Chionis the inaugural Olympic title of the modern Olympic Games in 1896 and placed him among the top eight at a further ten Olympics, up to and including the 1952 Games of Helsinki.

As well as his amazing achievements in long jump, Chionis was also noted as a triple jumper capable of reaching up to 15.85 metres (52.0 feet). Although the rules of such jumps are unclear, such a distance under modern rules would have won Chionis the modern Olympic title right up to the 1952 games in Helsinki.

Chionis was also credited with winning three consecutive titles in the diaulos and stade between 664, 660, and 656 BC. The diaulos was an event that involved a race of two laps around the track, or about 384 metres (420 yards). The stade was the signature contest of the 476 BC Olympics that involved a sprinting race that was run the length of a straight track, perhaps similar to the modern 100 m sprint.

Chionis' record was not matched until the 480 BC Olympics where a man called Astylos (representing Syracuse, Sicily) achieved the same feat, but also demonstrated his versatility by winning the hoplitodromos, which was a race completed in an armoured suit. Defending the honour of Chionis, the Spartans amended the inscription on his memorial stele in Olympia, pointing out that there was no hoplitodromos event in his time.

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