Wenlock, or How I learned to stop laughing and love the mascot

I still remember the day the London 2012 mascots were unveiled. I was just days away from graduating college, and came back to my tiny campus apartment in between senior week activities to check my email. Upon seeing the announcement, I burst out laughing and could not stop.

Fast forward two years and one Olympic Games, and I am now completely enamored with the little cyclops.

During my three weeks in London, I saw that guy boost morale everywhere — from cheering on athletes to cheering up journalists. Sure, he may not make sense aesthetically — he’s no platypus or panda, that’s for sure; even the Merlion made more sense than a “drop of steel” — but that only added to the appeal in the end.

After all, when you saw him running around, jumping and bouncing like a hyperactive child who just ate a gallon of ice cream, waving those tiny T-rex arms — let’s face it, I really just loved him for those disproportionate arms — it was impossible not to find him utterly adorable.

Then again, maybe you just had to be there. So I present, Wenlock in action:

Here is Wenlock entertaining some journalists.

At the IOC daily media briefings, the mood was usually quite serious. One day, Wenlock made an appearance, and the atmosphere shifted 180° as the smiles and phones and cameras came out.

After Taoufik Makhloufi won the men’s 1500m, he saw Wenlock waving from the sidelines during his victory lap. He went over, the two hugged, then did jumping high-fives. I mean, come on.

This is one of my favorite memories from London 2012 (I kid you not): Immediately after Bolt won the 200m, while Bolt was celebrating with push-ups, Wenlock came bolting (no pun intended) out of nowhere, slightly toppling to the right and left as he ran…and then he just stayed there, quietly bouncing up and down at the edge of the photographers’ circle as he waited for Bolt to notice him.

It looked something like this:

(Here’s a video of Wenlock running over to Bolt after another race [starts around 1:20])

No doubt about it, Wenlock’s bouncing abilities were superb. Here is his, spry as ever, cheering on the women’s 1500m:

I mean, how can you not love these dance moves:

Wenlock (and his Paralympics counterpart, Mandeville) could be seen painted up all over London. I was particularly impressed with ones that were relevant to their location, like Pirate Wenlock:

…and Ravens Wenlock, obviously making a run for it outside the Tower of London.

In the end, I never did stop laughing at this one-eyed, taxi-helmeted, transformed “drop of steel” — but it was because he was legitimately making me happy. I was laughing with Wenlock, instead of at him.

What did you think of London’s Olympic mascots?

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  1. These are hilarious, and cute! I personally loved the mascots this year. If I can’t work as a simultaneous translator, I’ll work as a mascot.

  2. I, too, mocked Wenlock only to be totally won over by him during the Olympics. How can anyone not love those arms?

  3. You had me at T-Rex arms.

    Honestly, he kind of looks like a penis with legs and T-Rex arms. I don’t understand how that couldn’t be hilarious!

  4. I guess we’re always won over by the Mascot’s shenanigans when we see them live or on TV causing a ruckus. But I guess they need to be easily appealing if you want to wear them as a T-Shirt or anything branded.

    A good idea would be to create and have released an animation to win people over that way. In any case this is a great love story. Ryan Gosling eat your heart out…