100 years of sporting excellence

Few South African companies can boast 100 successful years in business. It remains a big deal and for good reason. It is reported that less than half of all new business ventures survive their first five years.

This year we celebrate this incredible milestone – 100 years of excellence in sports footwear, design and manufacturing. When we opened our doors in 1918, the brand was inspired by the two biggest sports in South Africa at the time – football and rugby.

Today, Olympic International continues to be inspired by the excellent sportsmen and women who are changing the face of sports in our country, on the African continent as well as abroad.

We are a passionate supporter of some of the fastest growing and more technical sports locally, including netball, hockey, athletics, road and mountain bike cycling, tennis as well as hiking. Our brand is sought after for its lightweight, durable, trendy and affordable selection of sports shoes that cater to both the beginner as well as an elite sports enthusiast.

Inspired and spurred on by the proud and brave tradition of the Olympic Games movement, the five famous rings, symbolic of the Olympic Games movement, each representing a continent of the globe, originally appeared on every shoe manufactured. To avoid a clash of interest, a sixth ring was later added to our logo.

In the early 70s, South African rugby union football player, coach, and administrator Danie Craven, one of the most influential and controversial figures in the history of the sport, approached the company to manufacture specialist boots for scrummaging and place kicking. ‘Mr Rugby’, as Craven was affectionately known, also requested the design of the ‘scrum boot’ and ‘schools boot’ for boys, which we developed, tested and manufactured.

Morné du Plessis, a former South African rugby union player often described as one of the Springboks’ most successful captains, was also instrumental in the development of the boots. Morne was our Sales Manager at the time, in what he described as ‘a highly competitive market’. He also had a hand in the development of specialised soccer boots and training shoes, which were well received by the sports-mad population of South Africa. When road running took off in the 80s and 90s we added running spikes and road running shoes to our stable which further fed and fuelled the popularity of Olympic shoes, making our shoes a major brand of choice.

During the period in the 80s and early 90s when South Africa was isolated from world sport, some international shoe brand names desisted from selling their products here. As a result, the Olympic brand became further entrenched in the psyche of local athletes of all genres, especially gaining traction in school and club sports as the worlds attention now turned to our national teams after exclusion from the global stage.

Once South African sport returned to the world stage in 1994, tours and visits of all sporting codes becoming the order of the day. A massive surge forward in shoe technology emerged all over the world and this has remained unabated ever since. Our sports shoe range became engineered to the highest standards demanded by the sporting public.

Since then, our ranges have kept pace with the times and today include all the latest performance-enhancing designs and technology, thus gaining popularity and increased sales due to more acceptance from our sporty nation. Today, leading world technology is a standard application in all our shoe designs, backed up by an international quality assurance system.

Every new project is designed to meet with international standards, and then rigorously tested and controlled before being launched locally. A testament to this is the two-year partnership we have with the South Africa Hockey Association and Netball South Africa. We continually strive to grow awareness around the improved technical capabilities of our sports shoes and there is no better way to raise this awareness than amongst the top athletes who use them. As a brand, we look towards the future. We have a great team that always stays ahead of the latest developments to offer our clients only the very best. Here’s to the next 100 years.