Suspend Your Disbelief

Shop Talk |

And the gold medal in writing goes to…

Azzi Gold Medal

You read that right. Did you know the Olympics used to offer medals in the arts—including creative writing? Mental Floss has the story:

The rules for the five [arts] events, which were far less restrictive than the original guidelines drafted for the 1908 Games, were published in September 1911. Among them: All works presented were required to be original and directly inspired by the idea of sport. Size didn’t matter, except for sculptors, who were required to submit “small models not larger than eighty centimeters in height, width, and length.” While there were no language restrictions, the jury—a multinational collection of individuals assembled by Coubertin—asked that all manuscripts submitted in a language other than German, English, Spanish, French or Italian be accompanied by a translation to French, English, or German.

Want to know more? NPR’s Audie Cornish interviews historian John MacAloon about the “Sporting Arts,” and you can see some of the medal-winners here. (Hint: Coubertin was one of them—anyone else smell an Olympic scandal?)

Literary Partners