Throughout its sporting history, Barcelona has been the pioneer and driving force behind countless leading sports events, some of them truly unique. In early August 1962 the Mayor of Barcelona, Josep Maria de Porcioles, together with the Executive Councillor for Sport, Albert Assalit, announced to the media that the city would be staging the 1st Sporting Games of Barcelona - Modern Era, to coincide with La Mercè, the festivities celebrating the city's patron saint.

Much of the credit for the initiative lay with the journalist, and pioneer of race-walking in Spain, Lluis Meléndez. The central focus of the venture was the Roman centurion Lucius Caecilius Optatus, a resident of Barcino who in the second century A.D. bequeathed 250 denarii for public games to be held each year.

The most striking feature is that Lluís Meléndez learned of this bequest in 1932 upon the discovery of a Roman tombstone built into the street corner of Carrer Arlet and Carrer Hèrcules.

As the text was in Latin, he turned to the services of the Director of the Barcelona History Museum, Agustí Duran i Sanpere, for a translation. The tombstone was later added to the collection of the Archaeological Museum located on the foothills of Montjuïc.