Since the first mascot was introduced at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, mascots have become a much revered and important part of the Olympics. Mascots add a sense of fun and excitement to the spirit of the Olympics, and they unify Olympics fans from all around the world. While all Olympic mascots are unique to the culture of their host city, some are better than others.
Here is a list of my top 5 mascots in Summer Olympics history:
Misha, 1980 Summer Olympic Games, Moscow, Russia
For the 1980 Summer Olympics, Russia chose Misha as its mascot, the Olympic teddy bear.
Misha was created by the talented children's illustrator Victor Chizikov, was a dark brown with a tan tummy, and he wore the Olympic rings as a belt around his waist. I've collected teddy bears since I was a child, so, of course, I'm partial to the teddy bear. Misha is definitely my favorite mascot in the history of the Summer Olympics.
Hodori, 1988 Summer Olympic Games, Seoul, Korea
The 1988 Summer Olympic Games were held in Seoul, Korea, so for the Olympic mascot, Kim Hyun designed a tiger name Hodori. Tigers are an animal that is representative of Korean culture, so this mascot was dressed wearing a traditional Korean dance hat, and Hodori also displayed the olympic rings as a medal around his neck. I like it that Korea chose an animal that it feels represents its culture. I'm all for sharing one's culture with others, and what better time is there to experience different cultures than the Olympics?
Amik, 1976 Summer Olympic Games, Montreal, Canada
In 1976, the host city for the Summer Olympics was Montreal, Canada, so the Canadians chose a beaver to represent Canada as the official mascot. They gave the beaver the name "Amik," which means "beaver" in Algonquin, the predominate language of the American Indians who live in Canada. Beavers exemplify hard work, just as athletes work hard to get to the Olympic games. Amik made my list because I love that the Canadians gave him an Algonquin name. I have Native American ancestors so this culture is near and dear to my heart.
Waldi, 1972 Summer Olympic Games, Munich, Germany
The first mascot ever used at the Olympics was Waldi, the dachshund. The Germans chose Waldi as their mascot because the dachshund is a German dog and a breed that is very popular in Germany. Waldi was made from beautiful, light pastel colors, which was intended to enhance the festive feel of the Olympic games. Dachshunds are beautiful and fun dogs, and with those lovely colors, Waldi is just too cute not to include in this list.
See pictures of all of these mascots here.
The Five Fuwa Dolls, 2008 Summer Olympic Games, Beijing, China
The mascots that were used during the last Summer Olympics in Beijing were the "fuwa dolls," which were four of China's popular animals-the fish, panda, Tibetan antelope, and swallow, and an Olympic torch doll. These mascots made my list because I thought they were so cute, and I just love China's cartoon animals! I loved everything about the Olympics in Beijing -- especially its opening ceremony.
China truly did make the Olympics a special event for the whole world. I hope London took notes!
Ruqaiyya Noor is a student English teacher at Marshall University and a featured contributor for education on Yahoo! Voices. Ruqaiyya is an avid fan of the Olympics and can be found glued to the television set for the entirety of the Olympic Games.