What represents Great Britain’s cultural heritage, are the embodiment of Great Britain’s Olympic team, the pride of the British public and are made in China? The answer is of course London 2012’s two mascots; Wenlock and Mandeville (Wenlock on left & Mandeville on right). To some they are they are the very essence of this festival of sport. To others they are merely ludicrous and infantile phallic eyesores. London 2012 chairman Lord Coe has skilfully deflected any potential criticism by stating that the mascots are aimed at children and have the ability to inspire them to participate in sport.
Wenlock is named after the Shropshire town of Much Wenlock, home of the Wenlock games and the birthplace of the modern Olympics. Mandeville is named after the famed Stoke Mandeville hospital in Buckinghamshire, where Sir Ludwig Guttman, the German neurologist and father of the Paralympics founded a spinal unit in the 1940’s. The story of Wenlock and Mandeville’s creation could have come from the annals of Greek mythology. It is said that they were formed from the very last drops of steel from the final support girder used to build the London 2012 stadium.
Not only do Wenlock and Mandeville have their own website, they also have Twitter and Facebook pages, in addition to their own story written by Michael Morpurgo and an animated film. Over the forthcoming months we will all become very familiar with Wenlock and Melville, as they will be making regular appearances in a wide range of attire, emblazoned with the much maligned London 2012 logo.
Will Wenlock and Mandeville’s legacy be synonymous with the success of London 2012 or will they be remembered only as objects of ridicule? If in two or three Olympics time the next Chris Hoy or Jessica Ennis cite Wenlock and Mandeville as being their childhood inspiration for abandoning their sedentary lifestyle to pursue sporting excellence then their legacy will have been secured.
What is your opinion of Wenlock and Mandeville?