By Matt Meagher
With the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, we’re all looking forward to watching the world’s best athletes compete for bronze, silver, and gold medals. So we decided to create our own event for the characters who don’t get much attention: Olympic Mascots. We did some research on each mascot and created an all-mascot event to determine who would take home the medals based on creativity, national pride, and what they represent. The following 5 mascots hit the top of the list.
5th Place: Grenoble 1968
The Olympic Games of Grenoble, France introduced the first ever Olympic mascot. Although it was an unofficial mascot, we still felt that it earned a top-5 finish for our all-mascot event. When we first looked at it, I’ll admit we weren’t totally sure what this character was. But after some research, we learned that it was a skier named Schuss who wears a blue skiing outfit and has a red ball as a head. Now, this isn’t the most creative mascot in the world, and it was barely recognized publicly during the games. Luckily for Schuss, this isn’t a beauty contest, so it certainly deserves some credit for being the first ever Olympic mascot after 72 years of mascot-less Olympic games.
4th Place: Seoul 1988
Coming in 4th place, it’s Hodori the Tiger from the Olympic games of Seoul, South Korea. What we really like about Hodori is how it represents the culture of both South Korea and the Olympics themselves. The tiger frequently appears in popular South Korean art and legends, making it a great representation of their nation. South Korean culture looks at tigers as symbols of nobility and bravery. Hodori wears a sangmo, which is a traditional Korean hat with a ribbon on it in the shape of a large “S” for Seoul. He also wears the Olympic rings around his neck as a tribute to the games. Because of all these symbols Hodori embodies, he was a clear contender in our mascot event, just barely missing out on stepping on the podium when it’s all said and done.
Bronze Medal: Atlanta 1996
Izzy from the 1996 Atlanta Olympics was a bit of a controversial figure, as it got mixed reactions when he was first introduced to the public. What we really like about Izzy is the mystery surrounding what it is exactly, as it isn’t an animal or a person. It’s simply a blue figure wearing training shoes with the Olympic rings found in different places all over its body. Children from 16 different countries helped name Izzy, making the name a product of an international effort. For these reasons, Izzy made his way onto the podium with a bronze medal.
Silver Medal: Los Angeles 1984
Sam the patriotic bald eagle claims the 2nd place silver medal in our event. What we love most about Sam is its patriotism. You’d be hard pressed to come up with a more American mascot than a bald eagle wearing a top hat depicting the stars and stripes. And to top it all off, the name Sam is a perfect tribute to the patriotic Uncle Sam character. Sam looks very friendly and cheerful, making him approachable for children. Sam’s patriotism put him into 2nd place at our event, just barely getting edged out by our next mascot.
Gold Medal: Beijing 2008
Congratulations to the gold medalists of our mascot event, those of the 2008 Beijing Olympics! Their mascot group consisted of 5 dolls whose names loosely translated to “welcome to Beijing”. Each mascot represents one of the five natural elements, each Olympic color, and a wish traditionally found in Chinese culture. So as you can see, these mascots have a lot going on. With all of these representations, we had to award Beijing with the gold medal. The friendly dolls are named: BeiBei, JingJing, HuanHuan, YingYing, and Nini. These mascots earned the gold medal in our event because of the creativity and thought that went into making them. So congratulations to Beijing, who not only hosted great Olympic games, but also formed a gold-medal deserving group of mascots.