The First Official Olympic Mascot Was a Beloved Breed

In 1972, Munich’s Summer Games saw the first ever inclusion of an official Olympic mascot in the form of “Waldi,” a Dachshund selected for attributes described as required for Olympic athletes:  Resistance, tenacity and agility.

“Waldi” was based on Cherie von Birkenhof, a real long-haired Dachshund that Munich Games Organizing Committee President, Willi Daume, had given to Félix Lévitan, the International Sports Press Association President in 1970. “Cherie,” was the model for Waldi’s creator, German designer, Otl Aicher (who also participated in the logo design for German airline, Lufthansa).

According to the book, The Olympic Marathon, the 1972 Olympic marathon route corresponded to the shape of the dog-mascot. The head of the dog faced west, with athletes running counter-clockwise starting at the back of the dog’s neck and continuing around the ears. “Waldi’s” mouth was represented by the path going through Nymphenburg Park, its front feet were represented by the run though the Hirschgarten. The belly was the main downtown street in Munich, and its rear feet, rear end and tail were all in the English Garden. The athletes continued along the “back” of the dog and entered the Olympic Stadium.

The concept of “Waldi” was born at a Munich Games Organizing Committee Christmas party where those attending were given crayons, sheets of paper and modeling clay with which to produce their mascot designs.

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About the Author: Terri Osterfeld

I'm a certifiable dachshund fanatic and lover of anything that involves doxies. I have four -- Rommel, Franzi, Montgomery and Hank -- plus two German Shepherds, Noet and Sunna, who think they're dachshunds.

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