Olympic rings sculpture to be dedicated Sept. 28

Sculpture commemorating 1904 Olympics will sit permanently near Francis Field

The making of an Olympic “Spectacular.” (Video: Tom Malkowicz/Washington University)

It’s being billed as an event 114 years in the making. The site of the 1904 Olympic Games on the Washington University in St. Louis campus is getting international recognition with the dedication Friday, Sept. 28, of an Olympic rings sculpture that will sit permanently near historic Francis Field.

The sculpture featuring the five interlaced Olympic rings will commemorate the region’s role as America’s first Olympic city and its ongoing contributions to the Olympic movement.

A ceremony unveiling the rings begins at 5:45 p.m. at the end of Olympian Way and will feature several St. Louis-area Olympians, including gold medalists Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Ray Armstead, Mark Gorski, Washington University softball coach Michelle Venturella and Paralympic gold medalist Josh Pauls.

Bill Toomey, 1968 gold-medal winner of the decathlon, an Olympic event that made its debut at Francis Field in 1904, also will be in attendance. Frank Viverito, president of the St. Louis Sports Commission, will serve as master of ceremonies; Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton will deliver remarks; and St. Louis attorney Mike Loynd, a 1999 graduate of Washington University School of Law and chair of the St. Louis Olympic Legacy Committee, also will speak.

The familiar five-color rings sculpture, known as an Olympic “Spectacular,” is made of stainless steel and will sit on a block of granite. Its base replicates an Olympic medal podium, a nod to the St. Louis games being the first to award gold, silver and bronze medals. The entire sculpture, designed by SWT Design and fabricated by Engraphix (both St. Louis companies) spans 16 feet by 9 feet.

The installation of the sculpture is part of a multi-initiative project undertaken by the St. Louis Sports Commission to raise the profile and impact of St. Louis’ Olympic affiliation.  Last fall, the Sports Commission’s Olympic Legacy Committee received permission from the International Olympic Committee to display the rings, one of the most iconic sports symbols in the world, at the venues where the 1904 Summer Games took place. This was a groundbreaking step as St. Louis previously did not have the ability to use the rings because its games predated their existence.

A celebration fit for an Olympian

Washington University’s 65-piece Wind Ensemble will provide music, including John Williams’ celebrated “Olympic Fanfare,” during the 30-minute program.

“Ringing in the Olympic Rings,” a special event for Washington University students, begins at noon Friday at the north end of the Danforth University Center, where the Campus Life office will have cotton candy and an Olympic ring toss with T-shirts for prizes. From 2-6 p.m., a photo booth will be available at the west end of Mudd Field, and, nearby on Olympian Way, My Big Fat Greek food truck will be open from 2:30-4:30 p.m., with Walk Away Waffles open from 4-6 p.m.

An artist’s rendering of the Olympic sculpture

“The 1904 Olympics are forever tied to the history of St. Louis and Washington University, and I am very pleased that there will now be a beautiful and permanent tangible reminder on our campus of these historic games,” Wrighton said. “This memorial to the games will no doubt become a favorite meeting space on campus, and I am sure that, ‘meet me at the rings’ will quickly become part of the Washington University vocabulary.

“We could not be more proud to be the home of this important new reminder of St. Louis’ Olympic legacy and its connection to the international community.”

The event is open to the public. To read more about the sculpture and the ceremony, visit the St. Louis Sports Commission website.

Read more stories celebrating Washington University’s Olympic legacy here.

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