Olympic torch hope for ‘birthplace’ of Games

Fingers are crossed in the quaint medieval town of Much Wenlock, credited with being the birthplace or the modern Olympics, that it will be a stop on the 2012 torch relay.

Shropshire residents, who are preparing for the 125th Wenlock Olympian Games starting on Sunday, argue it would be fitting given its historic links with the Games.

Wenlock, the 2012 Olympic mascot, is named after the town whose most famous resident is the doctor William Penny Brookes. He inspired Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin to stage the modern Games.

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Of the relay, Liz Roberts, from the Wenlock Olympian Society, said: “It would be a great disappointment if it did not visit us at all.”

With great pride and passion, Linden Fields, the small grassy patch where de Coubertin planted an oak in 1890, is turned in to the arena for the annual Games.

It was founded in 1850 on Penny Brookes’ idea that everybody should enjoy exercise, have fun and to “promote the moral, physical and intellectual improvement of the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood of Wenlock”.

Next year’s Wenlock Olympian Games is set for July 13-16 – a fortnight before the London 2012 opening ceremony. A scheme to create a ribbon of trees, from Much Wenlock to the Olympic site is in the pipeline.