L’essentiel ce n’est pas d’avoir vaincu mais de s’être bien battu

The International Olympic Committee was formed on June 23, 1894. The driving force behind the not for profit NGO was Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin.  The Baron wanted to restore international harmony and cooperation through resurrecting the ancient games. The first of the modern games were held in Athens in 1896. De Coubertin continued to have a particularly active role until 1925 and was the longest serving President in the IOC’s history. Although from an aristocratic family, de Coubertin broke from his father’s passions for painting and the restoration of the monarchy and immersed himself in reforming education, particularly by involving sports as part of the school day.

An interesting irony is that, although the games were revived to encourage national harmony, de Coubertin believed that physical education in the school would help make boys more able soldiers. When discussing his ideals, de Coubertin said “L’important dans la vie ce n’est point le triomphe, mais le combat, l’essentiel ce n’est pas d’avoir vaincu mais de s’être bien battu” (lam-por-tahn dahn lah vee suh neh pwahn luh treeomf, meh luh kombah, lay-son-see-el suh neh pah davwar vanku meh duh setruh been batu) which means “The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle, the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” A special Olympic medal for sportsmanship is awarded in his name.

Pierre de Coubertin

About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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