Thursday, 22 December 2011

2012 is almost here!

I have been doing my own review of 2011 and other RELAYS related things this week. I have had a great time and met lots of interesting people. Stand out moments were my interview to be a Games Maker and the anti-doping day for young people here on campus.

2012 looks like it will be really full on!

Already I will be at an event most months from January to July and there are bound to be more things coming along or where I go to help out. It ranges from Illuminate Bath in January to the Earth Festival on the Jurassic Coast between May and July with various sports events as well.

I just know so much more about sport, exercise and health than I did when I arrived here in April 2009. I hear myself speak and think, ha I sound like I know what I am talking about!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Devon Games to Inspire 2012

At the meeting in October we chose the venue as Okehampton so yesterday we had our first meeting there.The criticism from earlier events was that we were too slow in deciding on the sports and then getting the rules for them so that people could organise trials.

So now we are ahead and have chosen 18 sports including a Triathlon for the first time and quite a large Street Sports offer-scooters, skateboards and BMX for years 7-11. That is looking like it could be a mini Games! We are aiming to have the largest event ever.

As well as the sports we want to have dance displays, music, sports for people to try, mascots and anything else we can organise between now and next June. Our Silver Band will have to meet a few challenges like can they play a Lady Gaga hit and I am not sure when we fit in singing the National Anthem. A colleague has found the words online...

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Olympic posters

You may have seen these or if not look online at

I like them all. I have had a good look at them and even online they look really interesting. I cannot tell how big the wording is at the bottom that identifies them as to do with London 2012, but it doesn't look very large.

I have ordered three for work. This was hard as I tried to decide which ones they would like, which might not be what I would like! I have chosen the swimmer with the Olympic rings, (obvious) the word GO over a stopwatch (pop art style) and the RoseRose one as I like the soft colours - even if it isn't obvious how it relates to the Olympics without reading the blurb!

I looked through all the posters they have in the shop and it is interesting to see the London ones for 1908 and 1948. Very traditional and of their time and both show Parliament. We wouldn't be showing that building now, not after the expenses scandal.

The shop also sells ones from around the world for the Games of the twentieth century and you can see how designs and tastes change. There is even one with them all shown, but lots of other people must have liked that too as it is unavailable.

It will be interesting to get reactions!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Everyone's a winner

Last Wednesday we organised the Devon Ability Games to Inspire in Barnstaple. There were twice as many kids as last year and more schools involved. 252 kids and 7 schools plus teachers and helpers, 40 volunteers and 4 RELAYS staff. Controlled mayhem.

The kids could choose up to three sports from tennis, badminton, boccia, rowing, football and frisbee golf and two things to try fencing and racing wheelchairs. The fencing was very popular as they all wanted to be pirates. All the kids had a marvellous time.

Two special guests were Ryan Scott a sprinter and Keryn Seal a Paralympian footballer in blind football. They were great with the kids, signing autographs, chatting to them, encouraging them and posing for photos.

The kids were very well behaved with only a couple throwing wobblies. The young volunteers from Petroc were great. Good humoured, friendly and reliable. They were also about 16 and had to get themselves organised as there were too few of us to do that.

The coaches recommend the people who tried hardest for medals and those called forward were so delighted. The joy on their faces was fantastic. We had also got last minute Mandeville's to give out to each school and they seemed pretty happy to receive them.

One particularly good sport teacher dressed as a Kangaroo and went around hugging kids. He did complain that they thought he was a dog! I think it was the big ears. Well done Matt for getting into a smelly costume and making the kids laugh.

I am still shattered, but it was unforgettable.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Velodrome scaletrix

It's here. The Velodrome scaletrix I mentioned in an earlier post.

I have just seen it advertised on the website on the shopping pages. It is expensive at £70, but if only my baby nephews were a bit older I would be thinking seriously about it.

As it is I have sent the link to my brother the keen cyclist. I think he will be able to come up with a reason as to why he should get one

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Wheels on fire

Last week the Tour of Britain cycle race came to Devon for a day. A sunny day after some of the other stages. I was there on the side of the road watching and waiting for the information car to come through.

When I saw the helicopter overhead I knew they were close, even though it was earlier than expected. Then there are the police and support motorcycles coming through and their sirens blaring at the kids from the primary school. The kids were literally jumping up and down and cheering and laughing.

Suddenly two riders came through. Was this a breakaway? I didn't even clap them, though the kids did. They were ahead of the information and I never did find out who they were.

People in the villages nearby where the race also passed through were out on their picnic chairs. Cars were grabbing spots in local laybys. Flags had been put out along main streets and welcome banners. It could have been France!

Crediton High Street was a sprint location and I can tell you that those guys go very fast. About a dozen of them in a line four minutes or so ahead of the main peleton, so more motorcycles and support vehicles with bikes on top. It's not just the cyclists to watch, all the support vehicles join in tooting and flashing their lights at the kids. The ambulance with its siren too. It is really exciting.

For kids in rural Devon to see this and meet riders ,as Devon County Council had organised, must be tremendous. Something you will never forget.

Mark Cavendish and his teammate were first and second for that stage and a local lad from Plymouth won the King of the Mountain stages on Dartmoor. I think he almost killed himself.

I love the people writing 'Come on Cav' on the road into Crediton, the men in cycling gear riding parts of the route, the family with Norwegian and Devon flags. We are told it brings in money to the local economy, but frankly I am pleased to see so many folk smiling and laughing and clapping.

The French use the Tour to promote French tourism, food and culture. We are catching on fast!

You can see some great photos of the Devon and other stages at

Friday, 9 September 2011

Look and Learn

I used to get a magazine called Look and Learn which was a general knowledge full colour magazine for kids with intellectual pretensions. I did not realise the last part at that time!

Watching the World Athletics from South Korea last week I realised just how much I have learnt about sport, and athletics in particular, in the last two years. I now understand some of the tactics and listen to the commentators in order to learn more. And it does help my enjoyment to understand and appreciate what is going on! Colin Jackson talking about the hurdler Sally Pearson made me watch what she was doing really carefully. Well, the slo-mo repeats.

I know, how nerdy am I?

Last night I watched a Diamond League evening of athletics from Zurich with some of the same athletes. Not all the big stars were there, but there were ones who didn't do well last week or who were left out of their teams and came along to show what they can do. So the British Relay men got around the track and didn't false start or drop the baton or bump into anyone or trip over and came 2nd. Hooray! It is like Michael Johnson says, "Get in the Final and anything can happen"

That's my mantra for life now.

I thought the Brits would win, but a Jamaican ran like he was on fire and took the race for his team. And that team was described as a scratch team-so not even the B team! Those folk are fantastic. They also seem to enjoy winning so much and they are fun to watch. As Mark Lewis-Francis said:
"I got run down by a Jamaican. But I can't complain about that."

The crowd last night were really supporting the athletes as the noise was noticeable even on tv. They were clapping and banging the barriers. The atmosphere must have been wonderful. I ended up exhausted on the sofa!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Tickets, Tickets

I know I have a job related to promoting London 2012, but I don't have a special way of getting tickets for events. No, truly I don't. Even athletes have to go online.

The Paralympic tickets will go on sale soon so you might like to check on for the latest information, timings etc to plan what you want to see. I don't know how popular these will be, but judging by the initial phase and the fact that they are far cheaper I'd guess pretty popular!

The Day tickets may also include a way of getting to an event, but I wasn't entirely clear about that from the website.

Two other current options are to look at the Thomas Cook website as they have an allocation of tickets or use any contacts overseas to buy them via their IOC. Later on there will be a website for people to sell their allocated tickets they don't want and any that come back from overseas.

Or go in for competitions for them. Lloyds Bank customers can do that.

OK, no more requests for me to get you tickets please. I am thinking of the Beatles song Ticket to Ride for some reason...

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Games Makers

I was invited along to the Games Maker selection event in Plymouth last week. I was interested to see how it was organised.

I handed over my passsport and had a photo taken. I was given a white wristband, but forgot to ask what the white meant...I assume it was for a general volunteer. There were plenty of Cadbury's heros around to munch as Cadbury's, now Kraft, is a sponsor.

There was some information to read and a couple of videos playing showing the Olympic Park and giving information about The Games. Then we were all ushered into a space to see a film about the interview. This was hosted by Eddie Izzard and basically told us to relax and tell the interviewer how great we were.

The interviewers were all local people and I can confirm that as I knew two of them whom I saw when I was leaving. Just shows you how small a place Devon is!

What I said was written down and I guess will be reviewed in London and we will hear about December. Plymouth was the last place they visited and they were there for ten days. A good thing was they had chosen the time of the Firework Championships on the Hoe so they were all looking forward to going out in the evening and watching the displays.

People did look tired and I was on the penultimate day. The staff I met were all friendly and pleasant and obviously understood that they were marketing LOCOG. Well apart from the young man on the shop counter who looked at the floor and never smiled. I doubt he sold much!

The people who were being interviewed all seemed really keen to be involved and I hope that they get the chance to be part of London 2012. I now wear my wristband and impress my colleagues. I wonder how many Exeter students have been interviewed? I will know soon!

Thursday, 28 July 2011

DASH Games

It was the hottest day so far this summer and the venue at St Luke's school in Exeter was great. The coaches worked hard to give everyone a good time; and it was everyone. The kids, aged from 3 to 15, and the carers who joined in.

I have enjoyed all the days I have attended, but I was so moved on Monday. Kids who have had difficult lives were being given a special day. The organisers ran themselves ragged making sure everyone was having fun and joining in.

London 2012 is being used to encourage more people to get active. I would like the naysayers to come along to the next DASH event and to take part in the many local activities that are being organised.

Friday, 22 July 2011

(Nearly) One Year to Go!

This weekend is the Open Weekend for lots of cultural events. Not any near me, but plenty in London and other cities.

On Monday it is the DASH Games in Devon. These are for looked-after and disabled children in the area and thank goodness someone thought to put on something especially for them. RELAYS is working with the County Council and lots of other partners to run this.

I am invited along and I want to try and get some names for young people to nominate to take part in the Torch Relay via Lloyds Bank. It would be great to see some kids who haven't had much support in life being recognised.

On Wednesday evening it is a Team Devon evening to bring us all up to date on the plans for 2012. In Devon there are to be two overnight stops with the Torch Relays so two chances for fireworks!

Then no events for a month so I can stop and take a breather.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

100% Me!

I helped with an Anti-doping day at Exeter last week run by Scientists in Sport with UK Anti-doping and others.

Did you know that at London 2012 they will test for over 2000 banned substances? What do you think should happen to athletes who fail a test? A lifetime ban, a four year ban or disqualification and bad publicity?

Olympian Jason Gardener believed there should be bans.

These and other points led to lively discussions with the 13 year olds present.

Read more on the University website at

Monday, 4 July 2011

Devon Games Inspired!

I was ill so couldn't go along, but the photos are great. Despite the wind and rain the kids all had a good time and you can see that for yourself by looking at the photos.

Ryan Scott, the young athlete who came along as the special guest, was a star and wonderful with the kids. He was mobbed! Even the photographer commented how good he was.

See for yourself on the RELAYS website by following the link below.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Big bikes and little bikes

This is bike week. It is your chance to channel your inner Victoria or Sir Chris, or in my case to make sure I give them plenty of room when I pass them in my car. Last week there were lots of cyclists on the A30. Are they all heading to John O' Groats?

Did you know that Hornby is making an electric velodrome? Put your bid in now as it will be THE Christmas gift in 2011. My brother explained it as Scaletrix for bikes (!) I tried to find out more on their website but couldn't see anything. It was from an item in Cycling News but see to find out more.

I wonder if Lego will come up with cycling Playpeople and will they resemble any of the current stars in British Cycling?

Monday, 13 June 2011

I need sunshine

It is chilly and damp and the forecast for the week isn't much better. This could be the year that Devon Games to Inspire gets rained off.

The outdoor pitches can cope with the rain, but I am not sure how many of the kids can. I knew it was a mistake to put so much effort into Being Sunsafe.

Colleagues are now trying to work out how many things we can do indoors in the corridors of the Sports Centre. As we are talking about 1000 kids that will be interesting.

The latest news is that Ryan Scott, a London 2012 hopeful from Bristol, will be coming along to chat to the kids on Saturday. Last year he won a Commonwealth Gold in the 4 x 100m Relay race. I guess he is used to running in the rain.

Read more on the Relays South West Facebook page or on our website

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Get your t-shirts now

As part of the Devon Games to Inspire ,which takes place on June 18th, the young people taking part are given a coloured t-shirt. This identifies which part of the County they represent.

Our supplier tells us that t-shirts are in short supply globally, particularly some colours like magenta. Large and extra-large sizes are also difficult to source.

So, what's the reason for the short supply? Are more people in the world wearing them? Is it due to a cotton harvest failure? Is it just a story we are being given to stop us hassling the company?

Still, I'll look after my favourites more carefully from now on, just in case it is true.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Tickets anyone?

Three people have told me that money has been taken from their account, so they know they have got some tickets. I also heard from two that they haven't got anything

The fortunate ones are taking it well that they won't know what they have got for a couple of weeks, though one accepts it is unlikely to be the cycling. But what if it is? I will be jealous.

I was disappointed in the BBC Newsround coverage where kids were saying "It's not fair" or people complaining it was stupid system.

So what would your plan be? Speak up please. I guess it would be fair if they got tickets but others didn't...

I did like that London Mayor Boris Johnson wanted us to know he didn't get any tickets.

Yes, but he will be at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and he won't be paying for those!

I am depending on VISA to let me win some. You will be the first to hear if I do!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Carrying the Torch

I have written two draft nominations for the Torch Relay. I need my nominees to agree of course.

There are other people I have mentioned this to and they said the same thing, "I am not inspirational". Well I think you are or I wouldn't have suggested it!

There are plenty of people in our communities who do things that keep life going for the rest of us. They fund raise for the local school and local charities. They give their time, like the the members of the Dartmoor Rescue Group or the RNLI. Teachers who encourage their students. All the people who run local clubs and sports facilities.

They inspire me and I am happy they are recognised in this way. Perhaps we should continue this after 2012?

Find out more at

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Torch Relay

The initial route was announced yesterday and my first thought was Oh No. Devon will get two nights of events and Cornwall isn't getting any.

I checked some local papers today though and they all seemed positive and are taking the view that Cornwall is the start and will get all the national coverage. Phew! I just hope the weather is better than it was yesterday when Lands End was shrouded in mist. Not the photos Visit Cornwall want!

TV coverage in the Bristol area was great, but more restrained here. You can watch it on our Facebook page at relays south west. It includes former Olympian Jason Gardener wearing a RELAYS t-shirt.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

I am feeling uninspired

Do you know about the Inspire Mark for projects inspired by London 2012? Or about the Get Set network for schools? Well, I guess you are like all the people I meet who say "The What?".

I have just been online to get the form for the Inspire Mark. I was on five different pages to be told I need to contact the programmer. He left at the end of February and hasn't been replaced yet.

For schools to be eligible for competitions and free tickets they need to be registered with Get Set. It is clear that people are not understanding this judging by the list for Devon and Cornwall schools involved. It is also not clear how long it takes to get an approval. I now learn from a school I encouraged to complete the application that it took six weeks. People need to know this.

I know my way around the system and I can ask people who know the current information what to do, but the website needs to be really spot on.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Sport can help peace process

There is a timely article on how sport and sports people can be important for diplomacy. It says it all far better than I can while making many good points.

It made me appreciate that if a series of games of football ease tensions in the Middle East and let people see some of the things that we all have in common then it is worth supporting.

Read Joel Bouzou's piece at

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Fossil Festival weekend

The Lyme Regis Fossil Festival takes place next weekend from Friday the 29th April to Sunday 1st May in the lovely Dorset seaside town on the Jurassic Coast. Fans of the film The French Lieutenant's woman will recognise the cob.
This event is organised by one of RELAYS partners. Most events are free and you can:

  • Learn about fossils and marine life from top UK experts

  • Enjoy music, theatre,films and hands-on art

  • Take part in the Fossil fair, walks, talks and boat trips

I will be there volunteering and so I hope it stays sunny!

For more details visit

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Another 500 days to go...

On Sunday it was 500 days until the start of the Paralympics. Those tickets will go on sale in September. I think I might try to get some for the cycling so that I can experience a velodrome.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

And this is me with the Olympic medal...

Following on from the visit by Heather Fell I have had the photos and I am pleased. They were taken by David Hedges a final year student from the University of Plymouth. My favourite one is the male student having his photo taken by a friend while he grins and holds the Silver medal. He looks so happy he could have won it!

You can see the photos and read more about the evening at

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Should we have a referendum?

My brother asked me how I will vote in the May referendum. I admitted I didn't know much about it, but I did know about the row between the British Olympic Committee (BOC) and LOCOG over payments. The website had the full judgement from the International Olympic Committee(IOC). As I said to him, if I were the BOC's lawyer I'd be telling them they haven't a chance of winning. In the process you have also upset everyone from the IOC to the Sports Minister. They have no friends in the media either. So yes I was smug yesterday to read that talks are underway again. I would like to be a fly on the wall of that room! Two former Tory MPs having a spat and each claiming the high ground. As regards the referendum I am still not decided.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Tickets on sale

At work I am expected to know all about the ticketing for the Games. What I've learnt is from the BBC website at and reading their Olympics coverage. It is very useful. Today I looked at the Thomas Cook package brochure for the Olympics. From one event plus a one night stay at less than £150 to a five event plus Opening or Closing Ceremony ticket at £6,500. I haven't applied for anything yet, but it won't be the latter!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

And then I held the Olympic medal...

So, now it is less than 500 days to go until the fireworks go off at the Opening Ceremony for London 2012. We can now buy our tickets, although it might be for a sport you have never watched before. The countdown clock is working.

So what can people complain about? Here are two items from yesterday.

"Why should my kids be charged different prices for seats at events when they get the same enjoyment?" Should I have responded:
A) I am not paying more for your kids to be there
B) Don't take them then
C) Let them all be charged £16

In fact I said nothing, but look at what 24 hours of cogitation can come up with!

As for the crass comment reported from a Tory MP that EU nationals are "now taking our tickets" I'd like to say to her:
  • Remind yourself of the Olympic values. It is called International for a reason.
  • Let's also ban all friends or family of non TeamGB athletes getting tickets. All johnny foreigners.
  • Don't use London 2012 to peddle your views on the EU. That does neither you nor your party any credit.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

There will be even more gold!

Yesterday I heard a speaker from the English Institute for Sport. Part of his message was about how did Team GB go from 1 Gold in 1996 to 19 in 2008? From being 35th in the world rankings to 4th.

Obviously there are a number of reasons including much more investment via the lottery money, more professional staff employed and more focused training, but the reasons are clear. Winning gold medals is as the reason for the investment.

He told us he believes that Team GB will win more golds in London and in sports where we have never done so before. The aim is to be third in the world rankings.

He also told us to forget the Aussies. They are not investing and their performances show that.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Training camps in the sun

Today I read on that the Australian version of Team GB have built themselves a state of the art training camp in northern Italy.

It tells me that the Aussies have been using Italy for training for years and they have ramped things up for London 2012. The place can accommodate 50 athletes at a time or more if they use hotels.

They have signed an agreement with the Italians that their athletes can also use the location. I am not quite sure what to make of that. Perhaps Team GB should consider sharing the place too, although they often send athletes to Portugal.

The down side for the UK is, does this means that the Aussies will not be coming to the UK for a training camp? I can understand they want a European base, but they cannot seriously believe the weather in northern Italy is the same as in the UK! For athletes competing in the main stadium getting used to being chilly in July and August is essential.

Train in Edinburgh. You'll be prepared for anything.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Will they come?

I have organised a visit by an Olympian for next week. I have asked Heather Fell, a silver medallist in Beijing and a 2012 hopeful, to come and speak to students and staff at the University.

It all started very slowly. I became anxious that very few people were going to come along and I have booked a very big lecture theatre; one that seats 200.

I hadn't realised that students (and staff) don't expect to make a decision about going to something three weeks before the date. It seems to be more like three days.

Today the 100th person has contacted me to say they want to come along.

Now I am writing a reminder email - just in case they have forgotten they signed up!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

What's On and When?

The details about which Olympic events are on where is available. This gives us all time to work out what we'd like to see. It also keep the momentum going for London 2012. I read an interesting article on about some of the different venues that are being used. With the road race starting from Hampton Court, shooting from the Royal Artillery Barracks and canoeing from the Lee Valley White Water Centre there are a real variety of venues as well as from the Olympic Park itself. The world will see both historic and 21st century Britain.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Let's moan

It had to happen. The national media are clamouring that LOCOG is messing up the decision about the future of the Olympic stadium.

Meanwhile my local paper is complaining that no benefits are being seen here with few local companies winning contracts and no competitors have booked a training camp in either Devon or Cornwall.

It was all going so well. The build is on time and within budget. Our athletes are achieving good results. More that 700,000 people applied to be Games Makers and more than 2 million have asked for information about tickets, 18 months before the events.

Companies in the region have won contracts and sub-contracts. It is just very hard to find the information and LOCOG does need to be asked about why they were reluctant to tell people about this or to allow successful companies to do so. I am told it is to do with sponsorship. I don't find that a very good answer.

Currently there are four training camps agreed in the region with the aim being 10. What have the venues done apart from apply to have their details in a government booklet? They need to do a lot more to win customers.

The next area for complaint will be tourism. No overseas visitors coming to the south west in 2012. Oh dear! Please look at the results from other Games. The visitor number spiked in the years following Sydney in 2000 and the winter events in Vancouver in 2010. Visitor numbers have grown in both Australia and Canada thanks to the positive media coverage of beautiful locations and friendly locals.

We've got those too. As long as our media stays positive then we will benefit, even if not in 2012.