Coubertin Quote for Apr, 24
An Olympic record is a limit reached by a man through the forces of nature … and the energy of his character.


For more than a century, the Olympic record book has stood as a testament to athletic prowess and human progress.  It quantifies the feats of the best athletes in each generation, and yet despite its statistical accuracy, it is full of mystery.  For there is no end to the debate of what it takes to make a champion—nor will there ever be.  Certainly, there are the fundamentals of natural gifts and disciplined training and the rare ability to rise to the occasion, but the last few ingredients of personal motivation and the circumstance of the moment defy quantification in the final analysis.  For every champion who fulfills all predictions, there are others who fall short to underdogs who deliver stunning upsets.    The heart of a champion remains an enigma—and that’s as it should be. The drama of sport is rooted in its unpredictability.  We are thrilled by the outcomes because none of us really understands what it is that gives one athlete, man or woman, the undeniable ability to triumph over all competitors.   

And that brings us to our quote today. Like almost every other sports fan in history, Baron Pierre de Coubertin often speculated on what it took to become a champion—and like everyone else, he couldn’t figure it out.  Although he made pronouncements like this one, which he delivered in a speech before the King of Belgium during the Antwerp 1920 Olympic Games, the Baron’s formulations for what it takes to set an Olympic record do not sound very convincing—although his point about social position is certainly true.

“An Olympic record is a limit reached by a man through the collaboration of the forces nature has endowed him with and those which the energy of his character have developed in him. His social position, the name or the fortune he receives from his parents have no place in it. Whether he is a prince or a workman, this will not increase by so much as a foot the distance he is able to cover in a given time as a runner, swimmer or oarsman.”