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Page last updated at 18:00 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 19:00 UK

London 2012 unveils Games mascots Wenlock & Mandeville

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Claire Balding discovers the story behind the London 2012 mascots

By Gordon Farquhar

London 2012 organisers have unveiled cartoon animations named Wenlock and Mandeville as the mascots for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Focus groups of children and families helped form the designs and children's author Michael Morpurgo added a story concept for an animated series.

"We've created our mascots for children," said Locog chair Lord Coe.

"They will connect young people with sport, and tell the story of our proud Olympic and Paralympic history."

The characters are named after the small town of Much Wenlock in Shropshire - which hosted a precursor to the modern Olympic Games in the 19th Century - and the birthplace of the Paralympic Games, Stoke Mandeville hospital in Buckinghamshire.

Children told us a number of things: they weren't that sold on furry animals and they actually wanted a story

Lord Coe

The Wenlock Games gave inspiration to Baron Pierre de Coubertain as he formed his concept of the modern Olympics in 1896.

Olympic motifs chime through the design: Wenlock wears the Olympic rings as friendship bracelets, and although predominantly silver in colour, also contains flashes of gold and bronze.

Mandeville's head reflects aspects of the three crescent shapes of the Paralympics symbol.

In a deliberate homage to London taxis, each has a yellow light on top of its head, with an initial in the middle.

In author Morpurgo's vision, the pair begin life as two drops of steel from a factory in Bolton, taken home by a retiring worker who fashions characters out of the metal for his grandchildren.

They appear to have a single central eye, explained as a camera lens, through which they'll see the world, and respond to it.

Mandeville and Wenlock
Mandeville and Wenlock will feature in an animated series

In a series of animated updates, linked to the official games website, they will be seen learning to play different Olympic sports in a narrative that will be regularly revised between now and the opening of the Games.

"The children told us a number of things: they weren't that sold on furry animals and they actually wanted a story," Coe added.

"Youngsters will be able to make a case for the mascots coming to their school if they've done something that is inspired by the Games. It's a way of engaging in a fun way."

The mascots are an important revenue generating tool for the Games, and Locog's commercial partners were consulted throughout the design process.

They will also be used to front London 2012's Get Set education programme, which will focus in part on the Olympic values.

Both will have their own Facebook and Twitter pages, with an emphasis on interactivity.

The mascots will also form a key part of 2012's marketing and merchandising, with organisers keen to avoid the controversy which surrounded the unveiling of the Games logo in 2007.

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There was widespread criticism of that particular emblem, which was designed by the Wolff Olins agency and cost £400,000.

A segment of animated footage to promote the logo was also claimed to trigger seizures in a small number of people, prompting it to be removed from the Locog website.

But Locog refused to bow to pressure, saying that the logo, which comes in pink, blue, green and orange, was modern, bold and flexible.

The first official mascot - Waldi, a colourful striped dachshund - appeared for the 1972 Summer Games in Munich.

But it was the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles which saw the first commercial mascot, Sam the American eagle.



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see also
Games 'spectacular' despite cuts
19 May 10 |  London
7 questions on mascots
19 May 10 |  Magazine
Olympic mascots through the ages
19 May 10 |  London 2012
Search on for 2012 Olympic mascot
24 Oct 08 |  London
London 2012 team defend new logo
05 Jun 07 |  Olympics 2012
London unveils logo of 2012 Games
04 Jun 07 |  Olympics 2012


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