Case Study: The 125th Wenlock Olympics

Sport Business News

Between 8 to 11 July 2011, the Wenlock Olympian Games were due to take place at Linden Fields, Much Wenlock, Shropshire, in England. The Wenlock Olympian Games have been held almost every year in Much Wenlock since 1850, attracting athletes from across the UK. The Games' founder William Penny Brookes was the inspiration for the modern international Olympics.

Whilst it may come as a surprise to many, the modern international Olympics has its roots not in Athens, but instead in this charming and quintessentially English town. This is all thanks to local doctor and philanthropist William Penny Brookes who established the Wenlock Olympian Games in 1850 – a forerunner of the Modern Olympics. In 1850, William Penny Brookes established the Wenlock Olympian Society, to " promote the moral, physical and intellectual improvement of the inhabitants of the Town and neighbourhood of Wenlock" . The first Wenlock Olympian Games were held in the town in that year. These games were intended for 'every grade of man' and included a mixture of athletic and traditional country sporting events. Whilst pursuing his own Olympian Games in Wenlock, Brookes was also determined to see his vision translated to an international stage. He campaigned vigorously and was in contact with the organisers of a revival of the Olympic Games in Athens. Brookes shared his vision for an international Olympian festival with a wealthy Frenchman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who was visiting Much Wenlock. Later, Coubertin used his influence to hold an international Congress at the Sorbonne, which then set up the modern International Olympic Movement. Sadly Brookes died in Much Wenlock in 1895 aged 87, just four months before the first modern International Olympic Games were held in Athens in April 1896 – the ultimate realisation of his lifelong dream. But the influence this visionary man had on a truly international event lives on through the Wenlock Olympian Society that continues to hold the Wenlock Olympian Games in the town.

Additional information