London 2012 Olympics exhibition | British Library

A century of sport: London’s Olympic history

London 2012 Olympics exhibition | British Library

Ready, set, go: let the Games of the XXX Olympiad commence! Team GB will officially ‘kick off’ the London 2012 Olympics this afternoon with women’s football in Cardiff (er, yes, that’s what we thought. Ref: Twenty Twelve, Series 2, episode 6). Also under starters orders today is Olympex 2012, a fantastic free exhibition of memorabilia, ephemera and oddities from London’s century-spanning Olympic history.

London 2012 Olympics | vintage logo courtesy of the IOCSome 2,500 exhibits at the British Library provide a fascinating insight into the way the Olympic spirit has affected Londoners, with items on display including a vintage swimming costume from 1908, photos and personal letters from Olympians, unique posters, rare stamps, and even a 100-year-old finishing tape broken by the mighty Italian marathon runner Dorando Pietri. You can also hear spectators and athletes relating their own memories via archive interviews.

1908 Olympic athlete Thomas Jack, shortly before a pub pitstopOur favourite exhibit? A photo of home-grown marathon runner Thomas Jack leading the 1908 race, before stopping at an official refreshment station (which were, then, pubs; other ‘stimulants’ enjoyed by runners included ‘muscatels and distilled water’, ‘new-laid eggs in tea and grapes’ and a ‘bottle of calves’ foot jelly and lemon’). Jack re-emerged from the Crooked Billet inn only to give up shortly after.

Olympex 2012 is free at the British Library from 25 July to 9 September 2012. Open weekdays, 9.30am–6pm (8pm on Tuesdays); Saturdays 9.30am–5pm; Sundays and Bank Holidays, 11am–5pm. The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London, NW1 2DB (+44 (0)1937 546060).


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As well as wordsmithing online, in print, in the press and for Smith TV, Lucy Fennings has been a driving force in making the Smith Travel Blog an award-winner. Mr & Mrs Smith's Group Editor cut her travel teeth early; as daughter of a hotel PR, she visited far-flung flophouses from French châteaux to Ethiopian tukuls. After a year in Dubai (working on Emirates Woman magazine and enjoying the kind of dives that require a wetsuit), Lucy went to Glasgow University to study art, literature and whisky. A stint as production editor at Legalease publishing was spent discovering how to be creative with copy about tax, followed quickly by a stint discovering more interesting things across south-east Asia. When Mr & Mrs Smith found her, Lucy was at Harper’s Bazaar, keeping her finger on fashion’s pulse and sharpening her editorial knife on hapless hotel PR copy.

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