Jolly good sport: Leicester students to revive Victorian Olympic Games ahead of London 2012
Published by University of Leicester Press Office for University of Leicester in Education and also in Communities
The Leicestershire and Rutland Lunatic Asylum, during its brief period as a field hospital/
Reporters are invited to help University of Leicester students limber up for the London 2012 Olympic Games with a sporting blast from the past.
The University and Students’ Union will hold a re-enactment of Leicester’s Grand Olympic Festival of 1866 – complete with Victorian-style games, clothes and facial hair –on June 13.
The event will feature vintage games which have since dropped off the athletic schedule, including the tug o’ war, “throwing the cricket ball” and the two-mile walking race.
Participants will be encouraged to dress up in the sporting outfits from the era, while announcers and spectators will be wearing full Victorian regalia.
Leicester’s Grand Olympic Festival came 30 years before the first Olympic Games in Athens in 1896.
It was held on what was then the grounds of the Leicestershire and Rutland Lunatic Asylum – now the site of the University campus.
The re-enactment will adhere strictly to the rules of the original, with a few exceptions – the games will be open to both men and women, and athletes with disabilities are also welcome to compete.
There will be opportunities throughout the day for members of the media to join in with the games and interview students taking part.
Organiser Kerri Wheeler, Sports and Societies Administrator at the University of Leicester, said: “Weather permitting, we are hopeful that this event will be a fun day for everyone and a chance for staff and students to get into the Olympic spirit.
“The idea, we hope, will show how sport has changed over the last 146 years. Despite the invention of specialised equipment like running shoes and starting blocks, sport has become a lot more competitive and demanding on the modern day athlete.
“Personally I am looking forward to the Tug O’ War which is proving to be very popular. The Paralympics events will also be good fun for everyone and chance to see how sport has developed over time.
“The Grand Olympic Festival is not only a chance for us to celebrate the London 2012 Olympics, but this is a great opportunity for the University and Students’ Union to celebrate sport here at Leicester and our heritage.”
The opening of the Victorian Olympic Games will kick off at 11am at the Queen Elizabeth I and Wyggeston College Rugby Pitch, off Victoria Park Road, and games will continue until the closing of the Games at 2.55pm.
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