Much Wenlock: The Alternative to the Olympics

By Much Wenlock 2012, PRNE
Thursday, March 10, 2011

As Tickets go on Sale for London 2012, Discover the Unexpected Roots of the Modern Olympics in Rural Shropshire

MUCH WENLOCK, England, March 11, 2011 - 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.

The 6.6 million public tickets for the London 2012 Olympics go on sale in
a matter of days. With prices ranging from GBP20 to GBP2,012 and more than 2
million people registered and poised to buy, there are bound to be some
disappointments. The small town of Much Wenlock in Shropshire offers an
Olympian alternative.

While 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
- 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.

Gemma Peers; +44(0)161-274-3311; gemma.peers at

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