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.