Olympic museum: an ode to the spirit of athleticism

By Nisha Dalal
English MuseumParkSport

We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self discipline and effort.- Jesse Owens

Jesse Owens was the youngest of all ten siblings. Somewhere between delivering groceries, loading freight cars and working in a shoe repair shop, he realized his passion for running. With 4 Olympic gold medals, he is known as one of the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history.

In the spirit to immortalize such athletes and their passion for perfection, the Olympic museum in Lausanne celebrates Olympic games and the endurance that goes behind it. As the Olympic Games 2016 are so close (starting from August 3 already!), I knew I had to visit the museum before they start. So, last weekend, on a nice and warm Saturday, I finally made it to the museum! ? Entrance tickets to the Olympic museum cost 18 CHF (about 1220 INR) for adults and 12 CHF for students (about 820 INR); although the entrance to just the Rio 2016 exhibits is for FREE! I liked the museum a lot. Not only it presents the historical insights and collections over the years, it does so in an accessible and interesting way. The whole aura of the museum is exciting and memorable.

Also fan of museums? What about a wonderful Sci-fi museum? Yes? Give a visit to Maison d’Ailleurs. Or an underground salt mine museum?


The first thing I learned was the meaning of the five intertwined Olympic rings. Did you know they represent the unity of the five inhabited continents (Africa, America, Asia, Oceania, Europe). The colors—blue, yellow, black, green, and red— were chosen because every participating nation back then had at least one of them on its national flag. Did you know that before? I definitely did not.

Several things/moments that stood out from this vivid Olympic museum visit are:

Olympic park

This lush green park is in front of the Olympic museum and on shore of the stunning Lake Leman. It also houses some of the most creative and gorgeous art pieces and sculptures. A slow walk through these variable tones of greens and blues is guaranteed to soothe you.

©andthereshegoesagain.com Lausanne Parc Olympique

For athletes, the Olympics are the ultimate test of their worth. — Mary Lou Retton, (won 5 medals in gymnastics).

Do you like beautiful crystal clear lakes? Head over to Lake Maggiore in Italy.

Historical adaptations

I knew that Olympics games were revived from the ancient games from Greece. What I did not know was the myth that associates Heracles and his father Zeus as the progenitors of the Games. According to this legend, Heracles was the first to call the Games “Olympic”. The myth continues that he built the Olympic Stadium as an honor to Zeus.  After he completed it, he walked in a straight line for 200 steps and called this distance a “stadion”. This stadion later became a unit of distance.

©andthereshegoesagain.com Lausanne Musée Olympique 2

I run to be known as the greatest runner, the greatest of all time. I could not eat or sleep for a week after I lost in the (1992) Olympics. I have to win or die.- Noureddine Morceli (Athlete from the 1996 Summer Olympics)

But there is always more..

This is not the only myth surrounding the origin of Olympic games. There are many more. One of them being the story of Pelops that begins with Oenomaus, the king of Pisa, Greece and his beautiful daughter Hippodamia. According to an oracle, her husband would kill the king. So, the King announced that any man who wanted to marry his daughter was required to drive away with her in his chariot. Oenomaus would then follow in another chariot and spear the suitor if he caught up with them. Now, the king’s chariot horses were a present from the god Poseidon and were so supernaturally fast.

Pelops was quite a handsome young man and the king’s daughter fell in love with him. Before the race, she convinced her father’s charioteer to replace the bronze axle pins of the king’s chariot with wax ones. Naturally, during the race the wax melted and the king died after falling from his chariot.  So, Pelops won and married Hippodamia. Later, Pelops organized chariot races as a token of thanks to the gods. He also organized funeral games in honor of King Oenomaus, to be purified of his death. It was from this funeral race held at Olympia that the beginnings of the Olympic Games were inspired. Well, I guess Hippodamia is never getting the best daughter award!

©andthereshegoesagain.com Musée Olympique Lausanne 8


Which legend did you like better? Like many other historical myths and legends, I guess we will never know the truth ? Greek historical legends intrigue me and these legends made me even more excited about my upcoming trip to Greece! Yay! (As if I needed any more reasons :D)

Digging into historical sites? What about a wonderful weekend in Rome exploring Colosseum and Pantheon?

The visionary

Pierre de Coubertin is considered as the father of modern Olympics. It was his vision to revive the ancient Greek Olympic games to the modern ultimate athletic championship throughout the world. He founded International Olympic Committee (based in Lausanne) and later became it’s second president.

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The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well. ― Pierre de Coubertin

Olympic museum has an entire section devoted to his vision, struggles and life events. I enjoyed the beautiful portrayal of his life events using the state-of-the-art technology. Even though I did not know anything about him beforehand, these illustrations made me curious about him. Isn’t this what museums are for?


Do you remember the cute little characters in every Olympic Games? Sometimes a tiger, sometimes a bear or a snow man? These mascots are the fictional characters designed for each Olympic game to cater the young crowd. They entails the cultural and social heritage of the host country. Mascot for Rio 2016 Olympic games is Vinicius. He is a mix of different Brazilian animals. Alongside his Paralympic Games colleague, Vinicius represents the diversity of the Brazilian people and culture, as well as its exuberant nature. His name is a tribute to Brazilian musician Vinicius de Moraes.

©andthereshegoesagain.com Lausanne Mascotte Olympique

There can be distractions, but if you’re isolated from the heart of the Games, the Olympics become just another competition. — Mary Lou Retton (won 5 medals in gymnastics).

The torch

Current version of Olympic torch and relay is inspired from the ancient Olympic games. The torch is ignited several months before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece. In this ceremony the torch is lit by the light of the Sun, its rays concentrated by a parabolic mirror. The torch briefly travels around Greece via short relay, and then starts its transfer to the host city. After traveling through many locations (Lausanne being one of them usually), it reaches the host country for the official opening ceremony of the games.

©andthereshegoesagain.com Lausanne Musée Jeux Olympique

I can’t remember the last day I didn’t train. — Michael Phelps, won six gold medals and two bronze medals in swimming at the 2004 Olympics.

All the past torches are presented in the museum. They are all unique and represent the singularity of the host city.

Opening ceremony

The arrival of torch marks the official opening of the games during the opening ceremony. The host nation presents events of music, singing, dance, and theater representing its culture. The person designated to open the Games does so by reciting:

I declare open the Games of [name of the host city] celebrating the [ordinal number of the Olympiad] Olympiad of the modern era.

Yes! There is a proper formal sentence for it. Did you know that? Talk about traditions and formal events, eh? There is a five-six minute long exciting video showing the glimpse of the opening ceremony in past years in the museum. Grand and stunning!

©andthereshegoesagain.com Lausanne Musée Olympique 3

It has been said that the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games is something that an athlete will remember for the rest of their life. It is true. That moment when you walk into the Olympic Stadium as part of the Australian Olympic Team, is a moment that I will never forget. — Jeff Fenech, boxer for Australia at the 1984 Olympics.

These presentations, once just a symbolic gesture, have now grown in scale and complexity. All successive hosts attempt to outdo previous ceremonies. Competition for better competition? It is a Meta-Competition in itself. Though I believe in festive ceremonies, but I am not in favor of such audacious expenditure. I am sure such huge amount of money can be put to better use!

Rio 2016

And all this brings us to the upcoming Olympic Games 2016 in Rio ? This year more than 10,500 athletes will compete from 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs). Rio will hold the sporting events at 33 venues in the city and 5 venues in São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Brasília and Manaus.

©andthereshegoesagain.com Lausanne Musée Olympique 4

It is the inspiration of the Olympic Games that drives people not only to compete but to improve, and to bring lasting spiritual and moral benefits to the athlete and inspiration to those lucky enough to witness the athletic dedication. — Herb Elliott (won a gold medal at 1960 Olympics)

Rio 2016 exhibit in the Olympic museum is located separately from the other exhibits on the first floor. It allows FREE entry to this section. So, if you don’t want to spend money over the museum entrance, you can just see the Rio 2016 exhibit for free! ?

India has sent 121 players this time which is the largest team from India ever! What strikes out the most is the number of female players is more than double than the 2012 London Olympics (YO! Girl power!). Once dominating the field hockey for years, India has sadly not been very successful at Olympics otherwise. But things have been changing positively and I have full hopes this year! I am looking forward to all the performances and wish athletes all the best ? I hope they have a gala time and an unforgettable journey.

©andthereshegoesagain.com Lausanne Musée Olympique 5

The Olympics remain the most compelling search for excellence that exists in sport, and maybe in life itself. — Dawn Fraser (won eight Olympic medals in swimming)

Olympic Museum: the unforgettable experience

I liked the Olympic museum a lot. For its presentations,  the collections, the historical insights and most of all for the fun facts about the origins and ceremonies. The digital presentations are stunning! I had goose bumps watching the video about the spirit of Olympics (located Underground! You have to watch it! You have to feel it!). Reading the personal experiences from the athletes leaves you stunned. It makes you appreciate the effort that goes in the training and practice years after years. It takes unparalleled hard work and dedication to even dream of winning an Olympic medal. Olympic Games are more than just games. It is more than just an international competition. It is a dream, it is a madness and it is a way of living once you dream to achieve it.

The Olympic Games is a celebration of discipline.― Sunday Adelaja

I have my eyes on Olympics 2016. What about you? Will you be there? Glued to your TVs, Laptops, mobile phones? Cheering up for your favorite athletes and teams? This much is at least what we can do as a respect to their hard work to make this dream come true. And how about the Olympic museum? Would like to visit it? I am all ears for your queries regarding the visit or the museum. Leave behind your comments/questions and I will be happy to answer them!