Why Painting Is No Longer an Olympic Event

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Phelps won 8 medals, Usain Bolt beat a few world records, and Nastia Liukin did some outrageous flips. But can they paint or sculpt? Back when the modern games resurfaced, a true Olympian wasn't just an expert swimmer,  or the fastest runner. A true Olympian was also a watercolorist, a sculptor, or a musician.

It's true! Between 1912 and 1948 art competitions were a part of the Olympics. Medals were awarded for architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture.

In fitting with the theme, all art competitions were required to have a sports theme. The founder of the revived Olympic Games, French Baron Pierre de Coubertin, proposed combining art and sport in the Olympics in 1894. He wanted to "reunite in the bonds of legitimate wedlock a long-divorced couple -- Muscle and Mind." Coubertin even proposed an event that consisted of a 14km race and a written essay, seeking men educated in both mind and body.
Picture 213.pngOnly two people in history have reunited Muscle and Mind in the Olympics, to win a medal in both sport and art. In 1912, American Walter Winans became the first and only Olympian in history to win medals for shooting and sculpture. And in 1896, Alfred Hajos (pictured left) of Hungary won two golds in swimming. He returned to the Olympics 28 years later and received a silver medal in architecture for a design of a swimming stadium. The art competitions were abolished in 1949 because nearly all entrants were professionals. At the time, all Olympian participants had to be amateurs. Of course, now that they've started allowing professional athletes back into the mix, perhaps Phelps should start practicing his watercolor.

Be sure to check out what Diana's learned today, here.

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August 28, 2008 - 5:35am
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