A motto is a phrase which sums up a philosophy of life or a code of conduct.
The Olympic motto is made up of three Latin words:
CITIUS – ALTIUS - FORTIUS
(FASTER — HIGHER — STRONGER)
These three words encourage athletes to give their best during competition.
The motto can be compared to the Olympic creed which says:
“The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.”
Together, the Olympic motto and creed embody an ideal that Coubertin believed in: that giving one’s best and striving for personal excellence were worthwhile goals. And where better to do this than through the pursuit of sport and participation at the Olympic Games? This is an important life lesson that is still equally valid today, not just for athletes but for everyone.
The three Latin words were adopted as the Olympic motto in 1894, at the time of the creation of the IOC.
Pierre de Coubertin proposed the motto, having borrowed it from his friend Henri Didon, a Dominican priest who taught sport close to Paris.
The inspiration for the creed would come later, following a sermon given by the Bishop of Pennsylvania, Ethelbert Talbot, during the Games of London in 1908.