The Well-Rounded Olympian

Throughout history the Olympics have served as a reminder of unity, competition, and global interaction. It is one of the most looked forward to events in the world. Every two years, winter games then summer, the games commence and people from everywhere tune in to join in the fun: rooting for their favorite teams, watching amazing athletes beating records, and enjoying global unity through competition. But, what many don’t know is that the Olympics weren’t always just sporting events! Between 1912 and 1948 art was a game in the Olympics.

The initial idea of holding art games dates back to the origins of the International Olympic Committee and Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the father of modern day Olympic games. He was enthralled with the earliest idea of what an olympian should look like and be like. Originally olympians were not just people who were athletic, but someone who was also in touch with the arts. So he decided to incorporate the arts into the competitions. Coubertin himself competed and won a gold medal in the literature competition.

The arts games held five categories and were affectionately called the ‘Pentathlon of Muses’. The categories were: architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture. Much like the typical games, contestants were given bronze, silver and gold medals. There were a few people who were able to even earn medals in both the traditional and the new categories. However there was only one person who ever won gold in both, Walter Winans. Winans won gold in 1908 in the double shot competition and for his sculpture An American Trotter in 1912. This game also hosted the oldest medalist ever at 73.

Eventually this part of the competition died out. Many people decided that they thought this portion of the games were unfair. In some fairness they were right; it was really hard to determine the amatuer level of the artists competing. In 1948, after much debate, the arts portion of the games was taken away, stripping the 151 medalist of their Olympic records. Though this category of the Olympics was short-lived it was one of the most controversial and interesting parts of the games history, it was there to remember what a well-rounded olympian and person must be: in touch with the arts and with competition.

Writer at The City Voice

Junior at City. Loves listening to music, biking, and hanging out with friends and family.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments