- Posted July 15, 2011 by
Much Wenlock, Shropshire, United Kingdom
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Why Wenlock? Britain Tells Story of Olympic Inspiration
Next year, the city of London will host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. The mascot for the event is named "Wenlock."
- elchueco, CNN iReport producer
A year before London 2012, people are still asking, "What's Wenlock?"
This story also appears on a London 2012 Daily News compiler site here:
With the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London little more than a year away, I thought it the perfect time to head back to where the modern International Olympic movement began...
Yes, England. Rural England, in fact.
Most people associate the modern Olympics with Greece. Indeed, the first modern games were played in Athens in 1896. However, while the Ancient Olympic Games originated in Greece, the history of the revival of theses games into the modern International Olympics begins somewhere else entirely.
This story of rebirth begins in the small, quintessentially English town of Much Wenlock, Shropshire. Roughly a 2 hour train journey outside of London.
But wasn't Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the Founder of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), French rather than English?
The English connection is in a man named Dr. William Penny Brookes. Living virtually his entire life in little Much Wenlock, he spent his life committed to the advancement of physical education and the promotion of sport. This ambitious doctor's local actions and international interests caught the attention of, and inspired, the worldly French aristocrat, Pierre de Courbertin.
In 1890, after his meeting with Brookes in Much Wenlock, Pierre de Coubertin wrote: "If the Olympic Games that modern Greece has not yet been able to revive still survives today, it is due not to a Greek, but to Dr. WP Brookes."
And the rest, as they say, is history...
Suddenly it doesn't appear quite so strange to have a London 2012 mascot named Wenlock...
Curious to learn more, I recently visited this town to investigate...and, during my trip, I had the opportunity to interview a member of the Wenlock Olympian Society. The Wenlock Olympian Society was originally set up by Brookes in 1850, long before he had ever met Pierre de Coubertin. The Wenlock Olympian Games are now played annually, with 2011 being their 125th edition. These games have become widely acknowledged as the forerunner to the modern International Olympic games.
With the support of the Wenlock Olympian Society, this short video is a collaborative effort between myself and local videographer Paul Hutchinson, of Virtual Shropshire, who was able to add to my footage by capturing footage of the 125th Wenlock Olympian Games last week.
Overall, Shropshire has an incredible history. The world's first iron frame building, the predecessor to all of the world's skyscrapers, was also built in Shropshire! And does the name Charles Darwin ring any bells?? He was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. That's just up the road from Much Wenlock. In fact, Darwin and Brookes were both born in 1809...
All filming with special permissions by the Wenlock Olympian Society.
Special thanks to:
The Wenlock Olympian Society
More information at: