Remember when the Olympics were all about international fellowship and goodwill to your fellow man? Those were the days!
Team Great Britain re-introduced its mascot for the Olympics this week, a lion named Pride, that will find its way onto hundreds of products before the Games kick off next summer.
Of course, the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games themselves already have two one-eyed mascots: Wenlock and Mandeville, modeled after two drops of steel, supposedly from the last girder of London’s new Olympic Stadium.
If you don’t think drops of steel are cuddly enough, Pride may be your man. The Guardian reports that the new lion in town who has a Union Jack-colored mane was inspired by the lion mascot of the 1966 World Cup, which was held in (and won by) England, the very cool World Cup Willie.
Pride made his first appearance on the scene, by the way, when British Olympians made their way to Beijing in 2008, though his mane wasn’t quite so colorful then.
More to the point, though, is that with the introduction of Pride came the unveiling of “a vast range of licensed Team GB merchandise,” the Guardian notes. From the usual T-shirts and stuffed animals to scooters and bedspreads, one can easily find a way to show off a little Pride if you’ve got a few extra Euros to unload.
The Guardian predicts that by the time the Games get started, “around 10,000 different London 2012 merchandise items will be on sale in the UK from around 30,000 retailers” and that “more than £1bn-worth of merchandise will be sold.” That’s $1.6 billion worth of gear.
Jonathan Edwards, the British triple jumper has brought home a gold and a silver from two different Olympics, said that showing some consumer confidence may help some British athletes win. "Having seen first-hand at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games the impact that visible home support can have on an athlete, this new range is a great way for fans to show their support for Team GB," said Edwards, who is also a member of the London organizing committee board, according to the Guardian.
(And the love of our fellow man will run high, too, right?)