Why Do the 2012 Olympic Mascots Look So Strange?

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Welcome to the world, Wenlock and Mandeville. Who they, you ask? Only the cartoon animation mascots unveiled for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London 2012.

They’re named in honor of the village of Much Wenlock in Shropshire (it held a precursor to the modern Olympic Games in the 19th Century) and Mandeville is a nod to the birthplace of the Paralympic Games, Stoke Mandeville hospital, also in England. And if you don’t find their, well, cartoon-ness appealing, the reason for that could well be because they’re aimed at children. Lord Sebastian Coe, the man in charge of delivering the London Olympics (and a former Gold medal runner to boot), said, “They will connect young people with sport, and tell the story of our proud Olympic and Paralympic history.” Children’s author Michael Morpurgo has also added a story concept for an animated series.

Now for the social media part: both Wenlock and Mandeville will have their own Facebook and Twitter pages. And Coe said that, “Youngsters will be able to make a case for the mascots coming to their school if they’ve done something that is inspired by the Games.”

So British children, the challenge has been laid down: if you can break Usain Bolt’s 100m World Record or, even more impressively, stop the costs for the Games spiraling out of control, you can meet the mascots and be well on the way to Olympic glory.