Ass-Kicking Athletes of Antiquity: Chionis of Sparta
Chionis of Sparta was an ancient Olympic athlete with leg muscles so dense and strong he couldn’t do squats in one location for too long for fear of kicking the Earth out of orbit. He was a man with thighs that would make Chun-Li take notice and jumping ability that made fleas in the immediate vicinity die out of inferiority.
When it comes to Olympic events, running is almost always invariably given the title card slot over other events. Which we think is a little unfair since we personally think the jumping events are way more awesome. Sure being good at running means you could escape from an opponent in the shape of an angry bear or lover, but jumping allows you to escape from, albeit temporarily, gravity itself. With that in mind, Chionis was so good at jumping his descendants should be getting royalty checks from NASA.
Chionis’s record in the long jump category is so absurd that it has been rejected by all historians as a “physical impossibility.” However, other, smarter historians looked a little deeper and came to the conclusion that Chionis’s more ridiculous jumping feats probably occurred in a precursor to the triple jump. Though the rules of such an event aren’t clear, it’s commonly accepted that Chionis jumped around 55 feet. We’d like to point out that this is just 5 feet off of the all time world record. As for the regular long jump, Chionis’s maximum recorded distance is noted to be around 23 feet whereas the current world record stands at 29 feet, 4 inches.
Now not only did Chionis accomplish these feats two thousand years before the current world record, he did so from a standing start into a literal pit that had been dug up the day before. The only advantage Chionis had over modern athletes was that he was allowed to jump carrying heavy weights known as halteres. Though the idea of carrying huge slabs of rock as an advantage may seem a little backwards, athletes would rhythmically swing the stones before a jump to give themselves more momentum. The halteres, when used properly, could give an athlete a tremendous boost in distance. For example, the athlete Phayllus of Croton (who we’ll discuss another time) actually jumped over the pit that had been dug for him and broke his leg. If the image of a man leaping with such ferocity he broke his own damn leg isn’t making you respect or at least fear these men’s thighs you’re either insane or once shook hands with Bruce Lee.
But the true measure of an athlete is in his versatility, and Chionis had that in spades, which he presumably had to lend to the event organizers to dig bigger pits for him to leap over. Chionis didn’t just jump, as you’d expect from a guy with legs that doubled as shotguns, Chionis was also a fantastic sprinter. Winning 3 consecutive Olympic titles in the ancient Greek equivalent of the 400-meter race and 100-meter race respectively between 664 and 656 B.C.–a record that would stand for almost 200 years.
When you’re next watching an athletics competition and you see someone lining up for a long jump, realize that there was a guy who lived 2000 years ago who could have probably leapt over the sand pit from a standing start while carrying giant rocks in each hand like boxing gloves made for Satan. Then remind yourself that people criticize the Bible for being unrealistic. Do those people realize that this kind of stuff happened all the time back then? Because it totally did.
Karl Smallwood is a freelance comedy writer that you can hire! His work has been featured on Cracked.com, Toptenz.net and Gunaxin.com you should probably click those links to make sure he isn’t lying. He also runs his own website where he responds to the various pieces of hate-mail he’s gotten over the years, in fact, he got so much hate-mail that he wrote a book about it that you can buy on Amazon. When he isn’t writing, Karl also Tweets and uploads pictures of himself drinking on Facebook.
Karl also documented The Most Hilarious Overreactions to Scary Movies. For a more contemporary ass-kicking athlete, check out Karl’s account of the five-decades-and-counting winning streak enjoyed by The Great Gama.