Olympic mascots through the years [PICS]

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We started with Waldi, the dachshund, and via eagles, beavers, bears and superheroes, we have Wenlock and Mandeville for London 2012

We’ve only had Olympic mascots since 1972 (the Games in Munich, in case you were wondering). We started with Waldi, the dachshund, and via eagles, beavers, bears and superheroes, we have Wenlock and Mandeville for London 2012.

The V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, London, kindly provided some of these images. The museum is hosting an exhibition of 38 mascots from past summer and winter Olympic and Paralympic games, including Wenlock and Mandeville, and it runs until October 28.

Have a look at the mascots through the years:

1972 Munich, Germany – Waldi the Dachshund

Waldi, Munich 1972
Waldi was the first official Olympic mascot. Modeled on a real Dachshund (the wonderfully named Cherie von Birkenhof), it represented resistance, tenacity and agility, all necessary attributes in world-class athletes. Photograph: paulhillsdon

1976 Montreal, Canada – Amik the beaver

Amik the beaver, Montreal 1976
Amik, the beaver from the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games. Amik is an Ojibwe word for beaver. Representing hard work, the beaver is one of Canada’s native animals. © IOC (courtesy of V&A Museum of Childhood)

1980 Moscow, Russia – Misha, Mishka or The Olympic Mishka bear

Misha the bear from the Moscow Games 1980
Misha the bear was designed by Victor Chizhikov, a children’s books illustrator. One of the most popular mascots, Misha had his own TV cartoon. Photograph courtesy of Jussi Katajala

1984 Los Angeles, USA – Sam the eagle

Sam the American Eagle, mascot of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles
Sam, the American eagle, from the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games. Sam was designed by Bob Moore, an artist for Disney. © IOC (courtesy of V&A Museum of Childhood)

1988 Seoul, South Korea – Hodori the tiger

Hodori the tiger, Seoul Olympic Games Korea 1988
Seoul had a pair of tigers for mascots, but Hodori (“Ho” meaning tiger and “dori” is the male diminutive in Korean) caught the imagination and Hosuni, the female counterpart, was rarely spotted. Photograph: wikipedia

1992 Barcelona, Spain – Cobi the dog

Cobi the dog, Barcelona 1992
Cobi, a Catalan sheepdog drawn in Cubist style had more than a little of the Picasso about it. It was designed by Javier Mariscal, appeared in several advertisements and starred in a TV series, The Cobi Troupe. Photograph: wikipedia

1996 Atlanta – Izzy (What is it?)

Izzy Atlanta 1996
Izzy’s name is derived from “What is it?” Despite an animated television special “Izzy’s Quest For Olympic Gold” and a video game called “Izzy’s Quest for the Olympic Rings” the 1996 mascot remains one of the least popular Olympic mascots. Photograph: Katrinas Toys

2000 Sydney, Australia – Syd, Olly and Millie

The mascots, Syd, Olly and Millie were designed by Matt Hatton and Jozef Szekeres. Representing earth, air and water, Olly, the kookaburra, was a symbol of generosity. Syd, the platypus, stood for the energy and vigor of Australia (and Australians). Millie, the echidna, was a symbol of the Millennium, showing how technologically advanced the country was in 2000.

Syd the Platypus, Sydney 2000
Syd the Platypus was named for Sydney, the host city in 2000. © IOC (courtesy of V&A Museum of Childhood)
Olly the Kookaburra, Sydney 2000
Olly, the Kookaburra was named for Olympics. © IOC (courtesy of V&A Museum of Childhood)
Millie the Echidna, Sydney 2000
Millie the Echidna was named for Millennium – it was 2000. © IOC (courtesy of V&A Museum of Childhood)

2004 Athens, Greece – Athena and Phevos

Athena and Phevos, Athens 2000
Athena and Phevos were the big-feeted Greek mascots. They were based on an archaic terracotta daidala (religious artifact) at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Photograph: wikimedia

2008 Beijing, China – Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying and Nini

Drawing inspiration from the five Olympic rings, four of these playful characters embody the characteristics of China’s favorite animals – the fish (Beibei), panda (Jingjing), Tibetan antelope (Yingying) and swallow (Nini). The fifth (Huanhuan) represents the Olympic flame. The five elements of nature are represented too – the sea, forest, fire, earth and sky.

Each of the mascots has a rhyming two-syllable name and when you put their names together – Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni – they say “Welcome to Beijing”.

Beibei, Beijing 2008
Beibei © IOC (courtesy of V&A Museum of Childhood)
Jingjing, Beijing 2008
Jingjing © IOC (courtesy of V&A Museum of Childhood)
Huanhuan, Beijing 2008
Huanhuan © IOC (courtesy of V&A Museum of Childhood)
Yingying, Beijing 2008
Yingying © IOC (courtesy of V&A Museum of Childhood)
Nini, Beijing 2008
Nini © IOC (courtesy of V&A Museum of Childhood)

2012 London – Wenlock and Mandeville

Formed from two blobs of molten steel from a steelworks in Bolton, or so the legend goes, Wenlock is named after Much Wenlock, the town in Shropshire which held the Olympian Society Annual Games, a forerunner of the modern Olympics. Mandeville is named for Stoke Mandeville Hospital, which organized the Stoke Mandeville Games, the precursor of the Paralympics.

They each have cameras for eyes and London Taxi headlights with the first letter of their name.

Wenlock, London 2012
Wenlock wears five friendship bracelets, each one the colour of an Olympic ring. He has three points on his head, representing the three places on the podium (Gold, Silver and Bronze).
Mandeville, London 2012
Mandeville’s head reflects aspects of the Paralympics symbol.
Wenlock and Mandeville. London 2012
Wenlock and Mandeville. London 2012

(All Wenlock and Mandeville images are courtesy of London 2012.)

Olympic mascots through the years [PICS] was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Pleasance Coddington
Author: Pleasance Coddington (2478 posts)

Pleasance is a British travel writer and online content specialist in travel. She has written for numerous publications and sites including Wired, Lucky, Rough Guides and Yahoo! Travel. After working for six years on content and social media at VisitBritain, she is now the Global Content and Social Media Manager for Cheapflights.