History of the Olympian Gliding Event

With the prospect of gliding joining the Olympic Games remaining an impossibility, as a group of pilots, we were determined to remember our Olympic dreams, and in March 2011 we approached the Wenlock Olympian Society (WOS). We are delighted to report that we were successful in joining the Olympic family through the WOS and, in doing so, we remember the heady heights that gliding once attained when it was part of the Olympic Games of 1940.

But what exactly is the WOS, what are their Games, and what do they really mean to sport? Well, a lot actually!

Formed way back in 1850, today the WOS’s Games is recognised as the inspiration for the modern International Olympics which we will celebrate in 2012. The first Wenlock Olympian Games featured a mixture of athletics and also the traditional country sports of quoits, football and cricket. Since then, these Games have been held almost every year in and around the small picturesque English town of Much Wenlock, attracting national (and now international) competitors. Today it is a much respected and well-loved sports meeting scheduled on the Midland’s sports and athletics calendar.

It is these Wenlock Olympian Games that the father of the IOC, Baron de Coubertin, visited back in 1890 and was inspired to set up what is today’s IOC, and the WOS predate today’s IOC by some 44 years! (And our own Aeronautical Federation by some 53 years!)

Such is the standing of WOS, that the 2012 Olympic Games Mascot was named ‘Wenlock’ in recognition of the historical importance of their Games to today’s Modern Olympic Games.

With the invitation to demonstrate the sport of competitive Gliding to Committee members of WOS in 2012, the VGC teamed up with the Midland Gliding Club. Gliding can only benefit from a partnership of these two vibrant clubs with the long-established reputation of the WOS, who are today officially recognised by the British Olympic Association, as well as the IOC themselves, as a part of the Olympic Movement’s history.

But it doesn’t end with just a demonstration event in 2012 however. The Wenlock Olympian Games are held annually and gliding is now established as a regular competitive sport on the Wenlock Olympian Games calendar. We hope to bring a truly meaningful event to grassroots pilots in a unique way in the gliding world!

For more information on the early history of the Wenlock Olympian Games, visit their website here