British Sports Names: From the Olympics and beyond

July 29, 2012 Linda Rosenkrantz

I’m tuning into the Olympics for the British sports names – both those that seem prime for importing to the United States, and those that are just plain interesting.  A few days ago, Sarah explained that Zamzam, the name of the Somali athlete competing in the 400 meter dash and bearing the flag for her country in the Parade of Nations, is actually a religious appellation, a reference to a sacred well visited by those on pilgrimage to Mecca.

It’s too soon to say if a superstar will emerge from the games, another Nadia Comaneci to inspire parents to borrow her name for their daughters.  The biggest baby name influence from the 2012 Games could be the host city’s name: London.  We’ll have to wait and see – and watch, to see if any of those handball players inspire us with their British names.

The nine newsiest names of this week all point to England and British sports names.

Olympia – Mount Olympus was the home of the gods in Greek myth, and a Greek princess called Olympias was the mother of Alexander the Great.  One of Edouard Manet’s most famous paintings is of a courtesan called Olympia.  That’s a steady history of use, and yet Olympia is off most parents’ radar.  She’s a possible alternative to Olivia, with an unmistakably athletic vibe.

Dolly – Well, hello, Dolly!  English reality star Chantelle Houghton gave birth to her first child back on June 17, but she and fiancé Alex Reid struggled to settle on a name.  They’re not the first high profile parents to revive the early twentieth century appellation – American actors Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell welcomed twins called Charlie and Dolly back in 2008.

CharlotteCharlie reminds me – do you know the name of the very first woman victor at the Olympics?   It’s England’s Charlotte Cooper, a tennis champion who also claimed the Wimbledon trophy five times.  Charlotte makes for a regal, enduring choice – and one with a subtle tie to the international sporting event.

Philippa – Speaking of royals, we didn’t see the world’s most famous sister-in-law at the opening ceremonies, but Philippa was in the news for another reason.  German baroness Isabella Shorlemer welcomed a daughter called Philippa Ina Anna Maria Yves Hieronyma.  If that’s not news enough, Philippa’s dad is restauranteur Jo Laggner, and mom was the headline-grabbing age of 54 when the happy coupled announced their news.

Fox India – Take That frontman Mark Owen has an affection for nature names – his older kids are Elwood Jack and Willow Rose.  Now he and wife Emma have welcomed a third child, Fox India.  A boy named Fox would’ve fit right in.  The same is true of a girl called India.  But it seems like a strange combination for a daughter.

Nico – While we’re talking singers, you might not recognize Israeli-born crooner Keren Ann by name, but her music has been featured on high profile television shows like Grey’s Anatomy.  Now she has a daughter with an equally musical appellation: Nico, as in the Velvet Underground chanteuse.

Stratford – Back to the Games.  London Olympic Park stands on an extensively re-developed site, an area known as Stratford.  Among the wackier celeb-related Olympic rumors?  Victoria and David Beckham are said to be planning a fifth child, and should he happen to arrive roughly nine months after the closing ceremonies?  It is also said that Stratford could be the little one’s given name.

Jude – Not sold on StratfordHow about Jude?  The Biblical, literary appellation is also the name of the hit Beatles song that Sir Paul McCartney performed to close the Opening Ceremonies.

August – It is the summer games, after all, so let’s end with a seasonal appellation, with a subtle tie to the British royal family.  Zeffy’s post on Georgian era names includes some surprising facts about Augustus and Augusta.

Have you been watching the Olympics?  Are there any Games-related names that you might use for a child?

Tune in again tomorrow as we dig into Olympic history for some unique past gold medalists’s names!



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