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Pierre de Coubertin
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Pierre de Coubertin

    

Baron Pierre de Coubertin (January 1, 1863-September 2, 1937), born as Pierre de Frédy, was a French pedagogue and historian, but is best known as the founder of the modern Olympic Games.

Born in Paris into an aristocratic family, De Coubertin was inspired by his visits to British and American colleges and universities, and set out to improve education. Part of this improvement should be sports education, which he thought to be an important part of the personal development of young people.

He conceived of an international competition to promote athletics. A growing international interest in the ancient Olympics, fed by recent archaeological finds at Olympia, De Coubertin devised a plan to revive the Olympic Games.

To publicize these plans, he organised an international congress on June 23, 1894 at the Sorbonne in Paris. There he proposed to reinstate the ancient Olympic Games. The congress led to the establishing of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), of which De Coubertin became the general secretary. It was also decided that the first modern Olympics would take place in Athens, Greeceand that they would be held every four years These Games proved a success, and De Coubertin took over the IOC presidency when Demetrius Vikelas stepped down after the Olympics in his own country.

Despite the initial success, the Olympic Movement faced hard times, as the 1900 (in De Coubertin's own Paris) and 1904 Games were both swallowed by international fairs, and received little attention.

This changed for the better after the 1906 Summer Olympics, and the Olympic Games grew to become the most important sports event. De Coubertin stepped down from his IOC presidency after the 1924 Olympics in Paris, which proved much more successful than the first attempt in that city in 1900. He was succeeded as president by Belgian Henri de Baillet-Latour.

De Coubertin remained Honorary President of the IOC until he died in 1937 in Geneva, Switzerland. He was buried in Lausanne (the seat of the IOC), although his heart was buried separately in a monument near the ruins of ancient Olympia.


Presidents of the IOC
Demetrius Vikelas | Pierre de Coubertin | Henri de Baillet-Latour | Sigfrid Edström | Avery Brundage | Lord Killanin | Juan Antonio Samaranch | Jacques Rogge