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The torrent of sports poetry inspired by the London Olympics continues unabated: NPR even hosted Poetry Games, in which listeners voted on a selection of verse with an athletic theme by celebrated poets from various countries. But few people today recall that poetry, just like the 100 meters, was an official Olympic competition from 1912 to 1948. Sadly, the names of the medal winners are not listed on the International Olympic Committee’s rosters. And many of the winning poems in the so-called Pentathlon of the Muses — which had to be “inspired by the idea of sport” — have mysteriously vanished as well, perhaps, as critics have suggested, because of their dubious literary quality.
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