Pierre de Frédy was born January 1, 1863 into an establsihed French aristocratic family.
As a teen, he was inspired by visits to British and American colleges and universities to improve education, especially sports education.
These games were held every four years in the Greek sanctuary of Olympia, in the Kingdom of Elis, from 776 BC through either 261 or 393 AD.
Baron de Coubertin believed that the ancient Olympics encouraged competition among amateur rather than professional athletes.
The ancient practice of a sacred truce in association with the Games might have modern implications, giving the Olympics a role in promoting peace, and he saw value in that.
This was reinforced in Coubertin’s mind by the tendency of athletic competition to promote understanding across cultures, thereby lessening the dangers of war.
In addition, he saw the Games as important in advocating his philosophical ideal for athletic competition: that the competition itself, the struggle to overcome one’s opponent, was more important than winning.
Coubertin expressed this ideal thus:
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.
“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.”
He then conceived of a modern international competition. Seeing a growing international interest in the ancient Olympics, fed by recent archaeological finds at Olympia, De Coubertin devised a plan to revive the Olympic Games and organized an international congress on June 23, 1894 at the Sorbonne in Paris proposing to reinstate the ancient Olympic Games.
The IOC decided that the first modern Olympics would take place in Athens, Greece and and held every four years.
There, the Panathinaiko Stadium was restored and used during the 1896 Summer Olympics.
The second modern Olympic Games, the 1900 Summer Olympics, were then held in Baron de Coubertin’s Paris, France.
De Coubertin eventually took over the IOC presidency until shortly after the 1924 Olympics in Paris.
Baron de Coubertin remained Honorary President of the IOC until his death September 2, 1937.
He was buried in Lausanne (the seat of the International Olympic Committee), although at his request his heart was buried separately in a monument near the ruins of ancient Olympia.
Each year, when the Olympic Torch is lit, the first runner enroute to the host city stops in Coubertin Grove.
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