As the excitement of the Vancouver Olympics fades, the long-awaited mascots of the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games were launched at 7 p.m. local time on Wednesday in the host city.
Made from the leftover two drops of steel from the construction of the Olympic Stadium, the Olympic mascot Wenlock and Paralympic mascot Mandeville were created to connect young people with sports and the power of the games.
“We’ve created our mascots for children,” said London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) Chairman Sebastian Coe. “They will connect young people with sport and tell the story of our proud Olympic and Paralympic history. By linking young people to the values of sport, Wenlock and Mandeville will help inspire kids to strive to be the best they can be.”
Out of a Rainbow, an animated film based on a story by children’s author Michael Morpurgo, shows the making of the two mascots and their adaptation to the surroundings. The two mascots will go on separate journeys to meet people and children across the country. [youtube]KatN365jaBg[/youtube]
The organizing committee has launched a nationwide competition for schools to determine where the mascots’ journeys take them next. Schools that are part of the London 2012 “Get Set” education program can invite Wenlock and Mandeville to visit their school and community.
The mascots’ names reflect the United Kingdom’s Olympic and Paralympic histories.
Wenlock’s name comes from the Shropshire village of Much Wenlock, where the Wenlock Games were a source of inspiration that led Baron Pierre de Coubertin to found the modern Olympic movement and relaunch the Olympic Games.
Mandeville’s name was inspired by Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire. Back in the 1940s, Dr. Ludwig Guttmann arrived to set up a new spinal unit at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital to help former soldiers suffering from spinal cord injuries. Looking for ways to inspire his patients, he encouraged them to take up sport, leading to the formation of the Stoke Mandeville Games, arguably a forerunner to the modern Paralympic movement.
The mascots’ features were designed to reflect London and the Olympic Games. London’s black taxis inspire the yellow lights on their heads; Wenlock’s friendship bands are in the colors of the Olympic rings; and Mandeville’s timing device is for tracking its personal best. Each mascot’s eye [they each have only one] is a camera that will capture the people they meet, the places they go, and the sports they try on their journey across the country.