It seems like only a very short time ago we were marveling at the opening ceremony and the fantastic designs of the Birds Nest stadium and the “water cube” swimming pool at the Beijing Olympics, and now here we are, fours years on, at the start of another Olympic Games in London.
I recently made a trip to England, and on my return, picked up what I thought was the Olympic mascot, only to discover that it was the Paralympic mascot called Mandeville.
Mandeville in all his glory
I was intrigued to discover that he is named after Stoke Mandeville Hospital which specialises in patients with spinal injuries. To coincide with the 1948 London Olympics , the hospital organised its own games for WWII veteran patients and these games are thought to have inspired the idea of a paralympic games.
Wenlock (the name of the red Olympic mascot) is named after Much Wenlock the place where the Wenlock Olympian Society Annual Games were held in the 1850s. Baron Pierre de Courbertin was inspired by these games to go on and establish the International Olympic Committee.
These mascots have their own website, their own official mascot song called “On a Rainbow” and a series of four short films from an original story written by Michael Morpurgo. Not a lot happens in the first two films, but the storyline starts to improve in film three, Rainbow Rescue (narrated by Stephen Fry) which features the rebuilding of a school library in a London bus after an accident with a tree.
Wenlock and Mandeville are rather strange looking creatures and I am not sure whether they are loveable, or just plain creepy. What do you think?