Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The lights are on

A bunch of London kids joined the the Prime Minister and other worthies at the Olympic Stadium last night to turn on the lights. On the same day that DCMS issued a report on how things are going and what the government hopes to achieve in terms of legacy.

The Education Minister also announced that SSPs would be kept, though probably not called that. A political 'lights on' too far for them perhaps.

Please can we see joined up government regarding the Olympics!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Supporting 2012

I have had an email from The London 2012 Shop, see
(latest@sh0p-news.london2012.com) it is promoting the various branded things we can buy like clothes, pin badges, gifts and souvenirs, bedding and posters.

At £50 for a key ring, and a rather dull one at that, their things are not cheap. As one of my friends commented, "There's still money in London then".

I will get some badges for my nephews and nieces and some posters for work. At £5 each that's more my price range.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Olympic values and inspiring change

On the website www.competefor.com today there are two business requests. One asks for UK based orchestras to record 209 national anthems needed for medal and Team Welcome ceremonies. 209 anthems is about 160 more than they needed to know in 1948.

Playing the anthems is described as encapsulating Olympic and Paralympic values to "celebrate the spirit of friendship, fairness and inclusion amongst the competing athletes."

The other is for British Sign Language (BSL) including BSL and deaf blind interpretation; interpretation of BSL on the Web, English to BSL and vice versa plus amending English to a simpler version for Easy Read.

I read through all four pages of the document and it states that LOCOG wants to use the Games to inspire lasting change. Namely
change in people's lives
change in levels of sports participation
change in attitudes to disability
changes in communities across East London.

Who says it is only a sports event?

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Devon Ability Games Inspire

Last Wednesday 170 young people from 15 Devon schools and assisted by 40 volunteers took part in the first North Devon Ability Games at the Tarka Tennis Centre in Barnstaple.

The children were aged between 10-16 and they had a mix of physical and mental abilities. They took part in six different sports - football, tennis, athletics, rowing, badminton, tennis and boccia - an adapted form of bowls. Staff from British Rowing and England Athletics were present to spot potential athletes and to encourage the youngsters to join their local sports clubs.

The Games were given a London 2012 Inspire Mark to show that they had been organised to inspire young people. On the Relays website you can see the photos from the day www.universitiessouthwest.ac.uk/relays

What I learnt was that:
  • The main aim was to encourage these young people to take part in activities and for them to encourage others to get involved too
  • A multi-sport event makes it far easier for youngsters to find out what sports they enjoy
  • Ability sports have been inspired by successful athletes like David Weir and Dame Tanni Grey Thompson and local wheelchair badminton players the Devon Racqueteers
  • Different equipment has made a huge difference in letting people with different abilities join in and take part.
I will remember the young lad who said he never did any sport, but he did play computer games. He turned out to be a demon in a racing wheelchair. I hope he continues.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

S'miles Better

If you saw hundreds of people dressed in tartan running towards you what would you do? Run away? That's what I'd do.

I don't know what people at the Delhi Closing Ceremony thought, but I enjoyed Glasgow's short piece inviting people to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the city. It was full of energy; it showed lots of young and excited people smiling and happy and yes it was bagpipes and tartan, but that's what people identify with Scotland.

I find myself explaining to people that Baron de Coubertin, who revived the Olympics in the late nineteenth century, wanted to combine sport and culture. So today at the two ceremonies to open and close the Games they demonstrate the host's culture.

Some people believe the Olympics and other international events should be like school sports days, with all the emphasis on the sport and the winners. Today large sporting events are about entertainment as more people watch them on tv or on-line than will ever attend them.

World class events are also about politics. Both Australia and China made their point about what they saw as their place in the world at their Olympic ceremonies.

Yes, we want more people involved in sport, but an event with a global audience has huge economic potential for the local economy. Manufacturing, food, hospitality, tourism and the creative industries are just some of the sectors that can benefit.

Glasgow worked hard to be designated a European City of Culture, a City of Architecture and in 2014 it will be a host for the Commonwealth Games. The city has realised the economic value of these accolades in helping to change people's perceptions.

So, the tartan gauntlet is down for London and the UK in 2012. Will we meet the challenge?

Monday, 4 October 2010

Delivering winners again

I saw a large newspaper advert explaining the rationale behind this sponsorship. The Chief Executive of this Devon-based company wants to:
  • Support athletes born or based in the Westcountry
  • Get people in the Westcountry to learn more about these five athletes
  • Encourage local people to get involved in London 2012 and make sure that there is a legacy
  • Promote sport, exercise and healthy lifestyles.

Two of the five, Liam Tancock and Georgina Geikie are at the Commonwealth Games and knowing they are local does make a difference to me. I will look out for the pistol shooting results now.

Follow Team Gregory at www.gdl.uk.com

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Olympian thoughts

Last week I heard three Olympians speaking at different events. George Weedon was a gymnast who took part in 1948 in London. Sharron Davies, the swimmer, competed in Olympics over three decades and Jo Pavey, a runner, who has been to three Olympic Games and hopes to compete in 2012.

Most of the talk was about the differences between then and now. Today the training and medical facilities, the physical and mental coaching and the numbers of elite athletes have changed completely since the last time the Games were held in London.

Nowadays sport is viewed as entertainment and many elite athletes are paid via the lottery to allow them to train full time. Athletes are interviewed by the media and some are household names. Until the 1990s UK athletes wanted to be the best in Britain. Today they want to be the best in the world.

What doesn't change is the need to train every day. To be able to overcome injuries and disappointments. To be willing to re-train and take part in another discipline as rules are altered by the sporting bodies or the IOC.

I can only admire their dedication and the sacrifices that they make as young people. Nor was it surprising to hear that neither woman is pushing their children to become elite athletes. They know how hard it is.

Friday, 10 September 2010

700 days to go

The Olympic Park is huge. Looking at the website, London 2012.com, just doesn't give an idea of the scale. The Park is the same size as Hyde Park, 50 hectares.

We took the free bus tour from Stratford. That helped me to understand LOCOG's vision of regeneration, encouraging more young people to get involved in sport and venues that can be used after the Games. Oh and exciting sports events.

London 2012 is using a world renowned sporting event to achieve the redevelopment of a grotty part of East London. Nor is it just the Park. It is the roads, the tubes, the railways and new stations. It is housing being developed and a shopping mall with John Lewis and M&S as flagship stores. It is cranes everywhere you look and the new stadium able to be seen from across London.

I was overwhelmed and proud. The site will look wonderful when all the building is completed, the trees and shrubs and environmental works in place and lots of people walking around and enjoying themselves.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

On Thursday all the Relays staff are going to London to visit LOCOG in their offices at Canary Wharf. They will be speaking to us about volunteering and the Inspire programme.

Then on Friday we are taking the tour of the Olympic Park. Having watched some of the tv coverage in July and seen the photos on the London 2012 website I am really looking forward to seeing it for myself. Judging by the reactions from family and friends everyone is very jealous of me getting this opportunity to see the site.

So me, my passport and tube maps are off on a big adventure.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Pounds of sport

The value of sport to the UK economy in 2008 had grown to £17.38 billion with 441,000 jobs. The figures for the south west region are £1,606 million and 44,000 jobs, so roughly 10% of the total.

These financial exercises don't claim to be exact, but they do show trends and these figures demonstrate an increase in the spend and in the numbers of people employed.

A lot of the money is in the things surrounding sport, the clothes, equipment or going to events. The breakdown for the total expenditure showed that 22% was spent on subs and fees and 19% for clothing and footwear while 15% was for gambling and 10% for TV.

So at least 25% of the total is for watching sport, probably while wearing sports gear.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Legacy-How social media can help

I heard about the ping pong tables set up around London and I thought how great that sounded. I played lots of table tennis when I was young on wet holidays in Wales and I am still pretty good.

Today I read an article saying that social media could be used to encourage informal sport like table tennis or jogging. Fewer people are joining sports clubs, but they will try an activity on holiday or informally with friends, especially one that is fun.

Legacy isn't just new buildings or elite athletes. It is also about using the excitement and inspiration of 2012 to get more of us active. Informal groups encouraging us to try something new and then perhaps our thinking This Is Fun has to be part of this.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Delivering Winners

On July 10th I was part of the team of people supporting the Devon Games to Inspire in Tavistock. More than 1500 people aged 8-16 took part in sports events, dancing, singing, and other activities.

The local team from West Devon were the overall winners when the sports points were totalled up. Exeter got the prize for best sportsmanship. Lots of people won medals. The event was described as "the day the Olympics came to Tavistock."

Today I was sent some photos, including those of our Games celebrity local Olympian Heather Fell. She is dwarfed by a huge lorry. A transport company is supporting the pentathletes and Heather's photo in her fencing suit adorns one of their lorries.

The photo is huge and on both sides of the truck. She hadn't seen it before and nor had her parents. They were stunned, but pleased, when I chatted to them.

The strap line on the lorry is Delivering Winners. I hope more companies follow their example.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Relays and London 2012

Relays is a regional project in the South West of England that is part of the London 2012 legacy.
I am thinking a lot about legacy today as it is exactly two years till the Opening Ceremony in London.