The Heraean Games were women only games that were dedicated to the Goddess Hera and were the 1st recorded women’s athletic competition to be held in the Stadium of Olympia.
These games were established by Hippodameia circa 800BC – 500BC. She was the daughter of Oenomaus, who himself was the son of the God Ares.
Hippodameia was a mythological figure and she gathered a group of 16 women out of gratitude of her marriage to Pelops (King of Pisa). The 16 women, may have been from the cities of Pisa and Ellis or from just Ellis itself. They may have been bought together to be peacemakers between the two regions of Pisa and Ellis.
Whatever the reason they were bought together, there was peace between the two regions and the 16 women were given the task of building the Heraean Games.
The games originally consisted of footraces only. There were 3 different footraces and these covered the 3 age groups. Over time, it is believed, that chariot races, javelin and discus throwing were added.
Only unmarried women were allowed to compete and they would wear a chiton (tunic) that stopped just above the knees.
Champions would win olive crowns and cow or ox meat sacrificed to Hera. They had the right to have statues inscribed with their names or painted portraits of themselves on the columns of Hera’s temple.
As part of the ceremony a robe was woven by the 16 women and then presented to Hera.