Born in Paris into an aristocratic family, the third child of Charles Louis de Frédy and Agathe-Gabrielle de Mirville De Coubertin was inspired by his visits to British and American colleges and universities, and set out to improve his education. He thought part of this improvement should be sports education, which he considered an important part of the personal development of young people. He was particularly fond of rugby and was the referee of the first ever French championship rugby union final on March 20, 1892 between Racing Club de France and Stade Français.
He conceived of an international competition to promote athletics. A growing international interest in the ancient Olympics, fed by recent archaeological finds at Olympia, De Coubertin devised a plan to revive the Olympic Games.
To publicize these plans, he organised an international congress on June 23, 1894 at the Sorbonne in Paris. There he proposed to reinstate the ancient Olympic Games. The congress led to the establishing of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), of which De Coubertin became the general secretary. It was also decided that the first modern Olympics would take place in Athens, Greece and that they would be held every four years. These Games proved a success, and De Coubertin took over the IOC presidency when Demetrius Vikelas stepped down after the Olympics in his own country.
Despite the initial success, the Olympic Movement faced hard times, as the 1900 (in De Coubertin's own Paris) and 1904 Games were both swallowed by international fairs, and received little attention.
This changed for the better after the 1906 Summer Olympics, and the Olympic Games grew to become the most important sports event. De Coubertin created the modern pentathlon for the 1912 Olympics, and subsequently stepped down from his IOC presidency after the 1924 Olympics in Paris, which proved much more successful than the first attempt in that city in 1900. He was succeeded as president by Belgian Henri de Baillet-Latour.
De Coubertin remained Honorary President of the IOC until he died in 1937 in Geneva, Switzerland. He was buried in Lausanne (the seat of the IOC), although his heart was buried separately in a monument near the ruins of ancient Olympia.
The Pierre de Coubertin medal (also known as the De Coubertin medal or the True Spirit of Sportsmanship medal) is an award given by the International Olympic Committee to those athletes that demonstrate the spirit of sportsmanship in the Olympic Games.
The Pierre de Coubertin medal is considered by many athletes and spectators to be the highest award that an Olympic athlete can receive, even greater than a gold medal. The International Olympic Committee considers it as its highest honor.
"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part; just as in life the most important thing is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well."
"Citius, altius, fortius." (Faster, higher, stronger.)