The Tokyo Olympic Games are still a year away but hundreds of students of St Lawrence High School got a peek into the biggest show on earth on Thursday morning.
A javelin thrower from the UK, nicknamed the Olympic Picasso for his painting prowess, took part in a drawing competition with the students. Roald Bradstock is a two-time Olympic javelin thrower from Britain who competed in the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984 and in the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988. He is also a trained artist and sculptor and works to promote the blending of sports and arts in the Olympics.
Bradstock was accompanied by Dianne De Navacelle, a descendant of Pierre de Coubertin, a French educator who played a key role in the revival of the modern Olympic Games in 1896.
Bradstock and De Navacelle braved the scorching sun to spend over three hours with the students. Around 400 students of the school, each holding a placard, stood in a formation to create a giant poster of Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee. They also made a formation to show the Olympic rings and the torch.
Roald Bradstock and Dianne De Navacelle take selfie with students. Picture by Gautam Bose
Around 1,700 students, including 200 from other schools, then took part in a drawing competition titled Expressions 2019, organised in association with the alumni association of St Lawrence High School. The theme for the competition was “sports-environment-peace”.
“There is no better way to encourage a child’s self-expression than art. Through the event, we are also celebrating the Olympic spirit of friendship and bringing together people from different spheres,” said Father Sebastian James, the principal of St Lawrence.
Bradstock, who became a founding member of an international association of Olympian artists called Art of the Olympians (AOTO) in 2006, wore his 1984 UK team jacket to the school on Thursday.
Roald Bradstock and Dianne De Navacelle get a guard of honour at St Lawrence School on Thursday Picture by Gautam Bose
The modern Olympic Games, in their earliest decades, relied on creative competition. Between 1912 and 1948, the International Olympic Committee awarded gold, silver and bronze medals to artists in five categories — painting, sculpture, architecture, literature and music.
“It was Coubertin’s dream to marry the aesthetic with the athletic. We are celebrating that dream,” Bradstock told Metro. He is also a part of the Olympic Art Project, which started in the run-up to the Winter Games at Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2018.
For the first time, Olympians who are also artists were invited to the Olympic Winter Games at Pyeongchang to be part of the project. The initiative was set up in the framework of Olympic Agenda 2020, the strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement, which aims to “further strengthen the blending of sport and culture at the Olympic Games”.