In addition to the prestigious events on which Monaco's reputation as an international sporting centre is founded, the Principality has a host of lesser-known, yet fascinating sport stories to tell...
Sport has always occupied an important place in Monaco. Since the early years of the 20th century, the Principality has played host to a string of prestigious sporting events, from the Formula 1 Grand Prix to the Monte-Carlo Rally, and from the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters tennis tournament to the Herculis international athletics meeting.
- The Princely family is a sporting dynasty! Beginning with the Sovereign Prince himself, who has played seventeen sports and competed in the bobsleigh at five Olympic Games between 1988 and 2002. While football is his first love, Prince Albert II has also raced in two Paris-Dakar rallies, in 1985 and 1986. His maternal grandfather Jack Kelly was Olympic rowing champion in 1920 and 1924, and his uncle took part in four Olympiads, winning a bronze medal in rowing in 1956. On his father's side, the bobsleigh had always been a family affair, as Prince Rainier III's cousin Guy
de Polignac was part of the French team in the 1920s. Finally, Princesse Charlene was a peerless swimmer, as a former South African junior champion, winner of a swimming meeting in Monaco and three titles at the World Cup in 2002. Princesse Charlene also competed at the Olympics, finishing fifth in the women's relay at at Sydney 2000.
- Already the most prestigious category of motor racing, Formula 1 reaches its pinnacle in Monaco thanks to the spectacular street circuit. Yet the Principality also hosts races in two other categories: the electric Grand Prix and the Grand Prix historique. Held alternately in May, the two races both take place in the city, on a shorter circuit in the case of the E-Prix, thrilling spectators and motor racing fans. If you appreciate the charm of the racing cars of yesteryear, or the heady combination of sustainable mobility and sensational speed, the Principality is the place to be!
- When it comes to the sports clubs of Monaco, the football team usually springs to mind. Yet it is not the oldest. That honour is held by the "Société des Régates", the sailing club founded back in June 1888! Whilst its name has changed, the club was the forerunner for two of the Principality's leading sporting institutions, the Société Nautique and the Yacht Club, of which the Sovereign is Honorary President and President respectively.
- The Association Sportive de Monaco (ASM) that we know today was founded in 1924. It was in fact created by the merging of several organisations that allowed the local population to pursue their sporting passions. The first disciplines to be practised under the ASM banner were gymnastics, soccer, swimming, athletics, and cycling. They were soon followed by basketball, boxing and volleyball.
- Did you know? Monaco is home to a nine-times world champion, Daniel Elena! As Sébastien Loeb's co-driver, the pair reigned supreme over rally sport for a decade, with a record nine consecutive world titles between 2004 and 2012. The Monegasque is the only overseas sportsperson to be named French "Champion of Champions" by the sports daily L’Equipe (in 2007 and 2009)… Let's hope his compatriot Charles Leclerc can follow in his footsteps!
- Since its creation in 1924, and in particular since the 1960s, AS
Monaco Football Club has exported the iconic diagonal stripe of its red and shite shirt to every corner of France and Europe. Incidentally, the unique design was created by Princess Grace herself, when the Monegasques lifted the French Cup for the first time in 1960. The shirt would prove a good luck charm for AS Monaco, who went on to claim their first French league title the following season.
- At that time, AS Monaco Football Club played at the old Stade Louis-II next to the zoo, whose animal residents included Bouba, an elephant who trumpeted whenever a goal was scored. The football-loving pachyderm inspired the club's supporters to create the club's mascot. Despite a period of absence in the 2000s, Bouba is still cheering on the Red & Whites to this day, and can be seen on the field at the Stade Louis-II on matchdays.