Category Archives: Sports Science

Robert Colls: England and the Olympics – the History

Robert Colls, Professor of Cultural History at De Montfort University, gave a really clear talk on the origins of the modern Olympics. He showed how, despite their being founded by a Frenchman, his inspiration was largely from England. Shocked by France’s defeat by the Prussians (i.e. Germany) in 1871, Baron de Coubertin wanted to build the strength and manhood of the French youth. After reading Tom Brown’s Schooldays and visiting English public schools like Rugby, where sport was seen as an essential part of a character-building curriculum, he developed the idea of making the Olympics, which had been revived in Greece as part of that young nation’s quest for identity, truly international and amateur. He’d be surprised now by what the Olympic movement has become, but not too disappointed!

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Mrs S. Bint and Mr B. Wille: Deviance in the Olympics, ancient and modern

Continuing, from Richard Barham’s talk, the Olympic theme, and reinforcing the PE department’s week of Olympic lessons, our own Mrs Bint and Mr Wille led a presentation and discussion on cheating in these most revered games. Interesting similarities emerged, from nationality switching (a Cretan competed for Ephesus; Zola Budd changed from South African to British), through familiar bribery to performance enhancing (Pelops’ winged horses, modern-day drugs), we realised that, when national pride and lots of money are at stake, not a lot has changed.

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