Jonathan Edwards on being president of Wenlock Olympians

PUBLISHED: 00:16 23 December 2011 | UPDATED: 20:28 20 February 2013

Jonathan Edwards on being president of Wenlock Olympians

Jonathan Edwards on being president of Wenlock Olympians

Jonathan Edwards, one of our most successful athletes of all time, has taken up the presidency of Wenlock Olympian Society for 2012 ...

Olympic athlete owes a debt of thanks to the town of Much Wenlock and the Wenlock Olympian Society, declared gold medallist Jonathan Edwards, one of our most successful athletes of all time.


Jonathan has taken up the presidency of Wenlock Olympian Society for 2012 a fitting role for an athlete who has competed in the triple jump in four Olympic Games, winning a silver and gold, and broadcast from two more.


He declared: Every Olympic athlete owes a debt of thanks to the town of Much Wenlock and the Wenlock Olympian Society for its role in the history of the modern Olympic movement.


Jonathan, now a successful broadcaster for the BBC and a member of the London 2012 organising committee, representing athletes, confessed he was ignorant of Wenlocks place in Olympic folklore until his visit in 2006, as a member of the 2012 organising party.


I was completely captivated by the story of Wenlocks role in the history of the modern Olympic movement.


He returned in 2010 to launch Wenlock as the Olympic mascot, and later to launch the national Community Games project.


Shropshire is a beautiful part of the world. It is an area of the UK that was not known to me until recent years but it is a truly beautiful county, a real hidden gem.


He has served as vice president, providing support and advocacy for two years, and now succeeds Roy Rogers, who died in April last year.


Its a great honour to be asked to take on the presidency, particularly during the year of London 2012.


As President of the society I will work very hard to be an advocate of the story and to raise its profile into the public consciousness. Having one of the Olympic mascots named in tribute to the town is a wonderful accolade.


I know I have big boots to fill. I met Roy a few times and he was a lovely man. I will do my best for the town as an advocate and voice for it.


This years Olympian games are expected to attract a lot of interest; there will also be the small matter of the Olympic torch trail going through the town as part of its tour of the UK en route to London.


The Wenlock Olympian Games are a model for communities to follow. They have survived all this time as a true community event, and we hope lots more communities will take up the Olympic challenge to host their own Community Games this year.


Edwards went to his first Olympics in Seoul 1988, then Barcelona in 1992. At Atlanta 1996 he was hot favourite for the gold, after jumping a magnificent 18.29 metres at the world championships a year earlier. However he ended up with the silver a feat he bettered four years later in Sydney. He was awarded the CBE soon after.


Does he imagine his world record jump will be broken any time soon?


I love that I have retained my world record for so long and am always hoping it does not go but I think there are two or three athletes in the world now who could break my record but who knows?


Following his retirement as an athlete, Edwards has worked as an athletics commentator and presenter for BBC TV. As a devout and outspoken Christian he had presented episodes of the BBC Christian worship programme Songs of Praise but in 2077 he he publicly abandoned his faith. He has maintained a silence about the issue since then.


When asked how he was personally he declared himself very busy but happy.


Now 2012 is here the intensity surrounding the Olympics build up has gone to another level. I urge everyone who can to take a tour of the Olympic Stadium; it is something very special.



Wenlock Olympian Games 2012


The 126th Wenlock Olympian Games will be held in July. It opens on Sunday 8 July with the marathon and half marathon beginning in Much Wenlock, and equestrian events in Broseley, and closes on Sunday 22 July with gliding competitions at Long Mynd. The Games will be held over 11separate days and take place on seven sites in and around Shropshire, but centred on Much Wenlock.


The Games, founded in 1850 by Dr William Penny Brookes, continues today as a festival of sports and cultural competitions at their friendliest and best, welcoming local, national and international competitors.


A complete schedule of events, times, dates and locations is now available on the Wenlock Olympian Society website www.wenlock-olympian-society.org.uk


As well as founding the Olympian Games, Penny Brookes is lauded as playing a pivotal role in the rebirth of the Olympic games in modern times. Pierre de Coubertin, then leading an international congress on physical education, visited the town to find out more about the Wenlock Games in 1889.


The two men discussed their similar ambitions and Penny Brookes, then aged 81, shared with the young Coubertin his dream of an Olympic revival, an international Games to be staged in Athens. On his return to France de Coubertin gave a glowing account of his stay in Much Wenlock and referred to his hosts efforts to revive the Olympics. He later wrote: If the Olympic Games that Modern Greece has not yet been able to revive still survives today, it is due, not to a Greek, but to Dr W P Brookes. Penny Brookes died four months before his dream was realised, with the staging of the first Games of the modern era in Athens in 1896.

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