Why did I restore the Olympic Games? To ennoble and strengthen sports, to ensure their independence and duration, and thus to enable them better to fulfill the educational role incumbent upon them in the modern world. For the glorification of the individual athlete, whose muscular activity is necessary for the community, and whose prowess is necessary for the maintenance of a general spirit of competition.
-Baron Pierre de Coubertin
Pierre de Coubertin was born on January 1, 1863 to the Baron Charles Louis Fredy de Coubertin and his wife, Agathe Marie Marcelle Gigault de Crisenoy, an aristocratic family in France. His education began at a school run by Jesuits. He then attended the Institute for Political Studies Paris. His parents had always considered a profession in the army or religious career for him. He spent a short time in the military training at St. Cyr, but realized he was not meant to be a soldier. He then attended the Ecole Libre des Sciences Politiques and set himself on a path to becoming an educator and propagandist. He defended the notion of an elitist education, believing that it was the only means to form leaders in a democracy and concluded that on the fact that sports and physical exercise were an essential part in the formation of character. He spent much time observing the physical education of children in Germany, Great Britain and the United States.
In 1889, at the Paris Universal Exhibition, Coubertin began a sequence of meetings about physical education and international sports. He began to display his ideas by writing articles and founding the Union des Societes Francaises de Sports in 1890. In 1892 Coubertin began his rebirth of the Olympic Games by saying,
Let us export our oarsmen, our runners, our fencers into other lands. That is the true Free Trade of the Future; and the day it is introduced into Europe the cause of Peace will have received a new and strong ally.
Coubertin still received much opposition but in 1894, a second Sorbonne Congress resolved to hold the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, in 1896, and every four years thereafter. Coubertin was allowed to create an International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) to carry out these games. Coubertin was instrumental in holding onto a belief that the Olympic Games could continue and flourish, as they almost did not in 1900 and 1904. Coubertin was responsible for the creations of the Olympic flag, motto, creed and oath.
After the 1924 Olympics in Paris, Coubertin retired from the I.O.C. He lived for thirteen more years. These thirteen years were marked by family tragedy and bankruptcy; he never attended another Olympic Game. He died in Switzerland in 1937. His body was buried there with he exception of his heart, which was removed from his body and interred in a memorial column adjacent to the ruins of ancient Olympia.