Astronaut Charles Duke who brought the Olympic spirit to the Moon honoured by the IOC
In April 1972, with a few minutes left on the Moon during their Apollo 16 mission, American astronaut Charles Duke and his commander John Young decided to do a few high-jump exercises in what they called the “Lunar Olympics” to celebrate the Olympic year.
To honour the team who embodied the Olympic spirit from Earth to the Moon, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach today presented the Sky is the Limit Trophy to Charles Duke. He was the 10th man in history to walk on the Moon after completing a successful mission back in 1972.
President Bach said: “Charles Duke really showed us that the Olympic spirit has no boundaries at all. The Apollo 16 performance was also a reflection of the Olympic values. First of all, excellence in all they were doing – I could not think of a better example for the meaning of Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger), the Olympic motto. But it was about team spirit too, with the third astronaut, Ken Mattingly, flying in lunar orbit supporting the mission remotely. And solidarity and respect, when Duke fell and John Young helped him back up. The title of the IOC President’s Trophy is the Sky is the Limit, but it depends on Duke’s definition of sky and whether the Moon is beyond it or not…”Charles Duke really showed us that the Olympic spirit has no boundaries at all. The Apollo 16 performance was also a reflection of the Olympic values.Thomas Bach IOC President
Apollo was able to take that spirit of an Olympic athlete at the Games, of bringing together people from all over the world.Charles Duke USA
Duke said: “I am humbled and honoured to be here to receive your trophy, the Sky is the Limit. I don’t think the Moon is the limit yet; we are going to be on Mars one day. I have always loved the Olympic Games – I watched both the Winter and the Summer Games since I was a young boy. Apollo was able to take that spirit of an Olympic athlete at the Games, of bringing together people from all over the world. When Neil Armstrong stepped on the Moon for the very first time, billions of people all over the world looked at it as ‘we did it’. To see that cooperation that the world experienced during Apollo reminded us so much of the Olympic spirit of bringing everyone together.”
The award ceremony was held at The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. It was initiated by Swiss Apollo and its founder, Lukas Viglietti, who regularly invites Charles Duke to the country.
Before the ceremony, Duke was given a tour of the Museum and visited the permanent exhibition on show.
He revealed that the Apollo 16 crew also carried two Olympic flags to the Moon, one big and one small, which were returned to the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) when they got back to Earth. Duke vowed to find out where the flags are and hopefully obtain one for The Olympic Museum.
Duke is also an ambassador for Worldwide Olympic Partner OMEGA. Click here to find out more about OMEGA and the world of space exploration.