IF you were trying to pick an inspiring sporting symbol recognised the world over, it would be hard to beat the Olympic rings.
The iconic rings are the subject of fierce trademark protection laws, but one small school in Melbourne has the right to use them in its logo — something even the biggest corporate heavyweights cannot lay claim to.
The Olympic Village Junior Campus of Charles La Trobe College has a historic connection with the sporting celebration which dates back to the 1956 Melbourne Games, when the school was located inside the official athletes' village.
Principal Libby Young says it is something the community has fought hard to preserve. "It's hard to find the actual history but pre-1956, as far as I can gather, it was Heidelberg North Primary School. Then, with the Melbourne Games, it became Olympic Village Primary School."
Young says it merged with Heidelberg Heights Primary School in 1994 and there was talk of finding a neutral name, but residents organised a petition and the Olympic Village Primary School name survived.
"We didn't realise we had permission [to use the rings in our logo] until we started working on the 50th anniversary celebrations," she explains.
"I think if the 'Olympic Village' was dropped from the name that might put that into jeopardy."
Young has been principal of the school for seven years. It marked its half century in 2006 by inviting overseas athletes who competed in the 1956 Games back to the site for a community celebration.
"The athletes were in their original marching uniforms that they wore here. It was quite emotional for a lot of people," Young recalls.
Sadly, a small set of Olympic rings on the side of the school building were stolen during the summer holidays but a much larger set now take pride of place in the school gym.
Old photographs show the huge tin rings hanging over the main road into the athletes' village.
"For some reason they were donated to Banksia Secondary College and when that school merged with the others to form Charles La Trobe College we decided that it was worth bringing the rings back home to where they belong," Young says.
Young and another teacher helped contractors dismantle and reassemble the rings at the end of last term. "It was a two day process … they're enormous and in a way they're a little bit fragile too, so it was quite a headache getting them up."
All that hard work paid off and students at the P-4 campus are now enjoying PE lessons in the shadow of a genuine piece of sporting history.
Young reveals there could be more exciting news for the school on the horizon after it was contacted by a film company searching for one of the locations for a Bollywood-style movie about an Indian athlete in the 1956 Games.