Leonidas of Rhodes

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Neck amphora depicting an athlete running the hoplitodromos by the Berlin Painter, c. 480 BC, Louvre

Leonidas of Rhodes (Ancient Greek: Λεωνίδας ὁ Ῥόδιος; born 188 BCE) was one of the most famous ancient Olympic runners.[1] For four consecutive Olympiads (164-152 BCE), he was champion of three foot races.[2] He was hailed with the title "Triastes" (tripler).[3]

Olympic career[edit]

Competing in the Olympic Games of the 154th Olympiad in 164 BCE, the last of the "golden age" of the ancient Games,[4] Leonidas captured the crown in three separate foot races — the stadion, the diaulos, and the hoplitodromos. He repeated this feat in the next three subsequent Olympics, in 160 BCE, in 156 BCE, and finally in 152 BCE at the age of 36. Leonidas's lifetime record of twelve individual Olympic victory wreaths was unmatched in the ancient world.[5][6][7]

His number of victories are a testament to his versatility as a runner. Philostratus the Athenian wrote in his Gymnastikos that Leonidas made all previous theories of runners' training and body types obsolete.[8] The stadion and the diaulos, foot races of some 200 and 400 meters respectively, were best suited to sprinters, while the hoplitodromos (a diaulos performed with bronze armor and shield) required more muscular strength and endurance.

Record broken in 2016[edit]

Leonidas' ancient record of twelve individual Olympic crowns (considered equivalent to a modern gold medal), which lasted for 2,168 years, was finally surpassed in 2016 when Michael Phelps won the 200-meter individual medley during the Games of the 31st Modern Olympiad, his thirteenth individual swimming Olympic gold medal.[9][10]


  1. ^ Michael Lahanas. "Famous Ancient Greek Athletes". Retrieved 27 February 2014. 
  2. ^ "Olympic Games - Winter Summer Past and Future Olympics". 
  3. ^ Miller, Stephen G. (1 January 2004). "Ancient Greek Athletics". Yale University Press – via Google Books. 
  4. ^ Lynch, James (18 November 2015). "The Ancient Olympiads: 776 BC to 393 AD". Warwick Press Inc. – via Google Books. 
  5. ^ Findling, John E.; Pelle, Kimberly D. (2004). Encyclopedia of the Modern Olympic Movement. Greenwood Press. pp. xxxv. ISBN 0-313-32278-3. 
  6. ^ "Greatest Ancient Olympians - The Real Story of the Ancient Olympic Games - Penn Museum". 
  7. ^ Society, The Biblical Archaeology. "The 12 Greatest Ancient Olympians - The BAS Library". 
  8. ^ Philostratus II. Gymnastikos. p. 33. 
  9. ^ Bull, Andy (12 August 2016). "Phelps claims 200m individual medley gold for fourth straight Olympics". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 August 2016. Phelps has now overtaken Leonidas of Rhodes as the most decorated Olympian of this, that, and every era. Leonidas, as every self-respecting sports fan knows, did the sprint triple in the stadion, the diaulos, and the hoplitodromos, at four Olympics in a row between 164 and 152 BC. Or 2,168 years ago. 
  10. ^ Kelly, Jon. "Who, What, Why: Who was Leonidas of Rhodes? - BBC News". BBC. Retrieved 14 August 2016.