Wenlock Olympian GamesView map
Where it all began
ove aside, Ancient Greece. The first stirrings of the Olympics as we know it today began in Much Wenlock, an unassuming Shropshire town.
In 1850 Dr William Penny Brookes decided "to promote the moral, physical and intellectual improvement of the inhabitants of the Town and neighbourhood of Wenlock". Of course, being English, he thought the best way to do this was with an annual tournament of athletic events and traditional sports.
And so the Wenlock Olympian Games were born. Soon after, many claim, following an 1890 meeting with Brookes, father of the modern Olympics Pierre de Coubertin was inspired to found the International Olympic Committee.
Nowadays, the Games are an annual event in Much Wenlock and various locations across Shropshire in July each year. They are a unique way to see a piece of Olympic history at the same time as catching some live sporting action.
The current president of the Wenlock Olympian Games is Jonathan Edwards CBE, who has held the Triple Jump World Record since 1995. And in 2012, as well as the more typical competitions such as Archery, Fencing, Badminton and Volleyball, there will be Vintage Gliding.
In between events, explore the picture-perfect town of Much Wenlock itself, a traditional country gem jammed with historic timbered buildings and overflowing with charm. Sports fans can follow the Wenlock Olympian Trail to find out more about how the Games came to Much Wenlock.
The trail starts and ends at the Much Wenlock Museum, which proudly points out Much Wenlocks’s role in the revival of the modern Olympic Games, and takes you to sites that are special to the Wenlock Olympian Games and to Dr Brookes.
You’ve probably noticed that one of London 2012 mascots is named Wenlock, in honour of the town.
Now you know why!