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62OLYMPIC REVIEWchoice for the Summer Games of Montreal in 1976,and Olly, a kookaburra, Syd, a platypus, and Millie, an echidna, were chosen as mascots for the SydneyGames in 2000. Olly stood for the generosity of theOlympic spirit, Syd represented the energy of theAustralian people, and Millie, who was something of a geek, stood for the Millennium. It's a formula that's still going strong: Beijing'sfive mascots in 2008 not only spelt out "BeijingHuanying Ni" (Welcome to Beijing) and combined five colours of the Olympic rings, but also suggestedthe fish, the panda, the Olympic flame, the Tibetanantelope and the swallow, symbols of blessings of prosperity, happiness, passion, health and good luck respectively.Native legends have also been a rich seam ofinspiration: Hodori, who was one of the mascots forSeoul in 1988 tapped into the long and populartradition of Korean tiger myths, and Haakon and Kristin- to date the only people-like mascots in the OlympicGames (and represented by real children to promotethe games) -in Lillehammer in 1994 were based on figures from Norwegian folklore who are creditedwith reuniting the nation in the Middle Ages. Salt Lake City, in 2002, introduced us to Powder,a snowshoe hare, Copper, a coyote, and Coal, anAmerican black bear, three mascots which managedto marry Native American legend - which told of the hare travelling more swiftly, the coyote climbinghigher and the bear being stronger than the otheranimals - with the Olympic motto "citius, altius,fortius" (swifter, higher, stronger.)Beyond their symbolic status, mascots havebeen the perfect vehicle to bring the public closer to the Olympic community. Vucko, the wolf, waschosen by readers of major Yugoslav newspapers to represent the Sarajevo Games in 1984; CalgaryZoo sponsored a contest to find names for the polarbears that represented the 1988 Winter Games -Hidy and Howdy beat nearly 7,000 other entries -and similarly Hodori (Ho meaning tiger and dori a male diminutive), the name of the mascot for theGames in Seoul, held that same year, was pickedfrom a public list of 2,295. Of course, like the athletes they are designed tosupport, not all mascots are equal. Misha (Moscow1980), in particular, stands out as being arguablymore successful that the Games that he wasdesigned to promote. Designed by children'sillustrator Victor Chizikov, Mikhail Potapych Toptygin(as he was more formally known) was adored bymillions who rushed to buy images of him - whetherit was a plush toy, or a plastic one. He even made it onto a stamp. Almost as popular was Sam, a stars-and-stripes clad bald eagle designed by Disneyfor the Los Angeles Games in 1984 - and the firstmascot to be actively aimed at children.Regrettably less successful was Izzy, the firstcomputer-designed mascot devised for the 1996Atlanta Games. Izzy was actually short for Whatizit,which was perhaps a fitting name for a creation,which was described, in politer circles at least, as a 'blob'. Izzy evolved in the run up to the Games -gaining stars in the eyes and stronger, longer limbsto make him appear more athletic, but not even the addition of a nose could ever really endear him to the public. Other, seemingly unpromising mascots have faredbetter: Cobi, best described as a Cubist sheepdog ina suit, was designed for the Barcelona Olympics in1992. When first unveiled even the IOC President atthe time, Juan Antonio Samaranch, admitted to beingunimpressed. Cobi's designer, Javier Mariscal, didn't blame him: "It is hard to fall in love at first sightwith a dog that looks as if it has been run over by a heavy goods vehicle," he said. And yet, Cobi slowly but surely won the worldover to become a firm favourite with the public bythe time the Games began. Similarly Sukki, Nokki,Lekki and Tsukki, the four snow owls that were themascots for the Nagano Games in 1998 -themselves a replacement for a weasel by the nameof Snowple - received a lukewarm reception from

OLYMPIC MASCOTSthe Japanese public until half way through theGames themselves. And for 2010? Vancouver's mascots, Quatchi the Sasquatch, Sumi the Thunderbird and Miga, a surfing obsessed sea bear, an indisputably cutecombination of uniquely British Columbian animalsand myths aimed specifically at children, wereunveiled in 2007.Earlier this year we were introduced to theirLondon 2012 counterparts, too: Wenlock andMandeville, two magically animated drops of steelnamed after Much Wenlock, the English town thathelped inspire Pierre de Coubertin to launch themodern Olympic Games, and Stoke Mandeville,birthplace of the Paralympic Games in 1948. With a back-story written by Michael Morpurgo(the author of countless children's books, as well as War Horse), their own website, Twitter feeds,Facebook pages, blogs and video, these are trulymascots for our times. But will they ever be morepopular than Misha? Only time will tell. ?How well do you know the Olympic Mascots?Can you name each of the ones pictured? OLYMPIC REVIEW63