The London 2012 Olympic games are now over, with Paralympics due to start shortly. The idea of fierce but peaceful international competition has its roots in the emergence of the sacred games in pre-classical Greece. From the sixth century BC we can trace an expanding circle of athletic competition. As the Greek world expands westward and eastward, athletics remains one of the key factors which define Greekness.

To underscore the ancient contribution to modern international athletics the Editor has put together a special online collection of articles from The Journal of Hellenic Studies devoted to sport and competition in classical antiquity. Meanwhile we offer the following sample of the contribution of JHS to the understanding of ancient games.

This is accompanied by an exclusive article by Olympics expert Mark Golden