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The Olympic Legacy

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09 August 2012
The Olympic Legacy OK, so I admit to being a bit of a sports fan at the best of times, but London 2012 really is something special.

Whilst the physical and mental ability of the world’s greatest sportsmen and women is incredible, it’s the human stories that are unfolding in our amazing Olympic venues which are gripping the nation.

Whether it was Mo Farah’s daughter running onto the track to give her dad a hug after he won the 10,000m (yes, I did cry) or the sight of British troops in Helmand cheering on their captain, Heather Stanning, when she won Team GB’s first Gold, I am totally hooked on London 2012.

The hard work, dedication and talent of all competitors must be applauded: as must the efforts of those who brought the Olympics and Paralympics to London in the first place. And that’s not to mention everyone – staff, volunteers, the fans – who are making this such an incredible few weeks. 

With Positive Futures at the Opportunity Decathlon, Ladywell Arena

“Inspiring a generation” has long been at the heart of London 2012. To think that thousands of British children could grow up wanting to be the next Jessica Ennis or Andy Murray is what this Games is about.

Forget Reality TV stars, these Games have provided a whole new set of role models – a group of people who have worked day in day out to get to where they wanted to be, taking the rough with the smooth but coming out on top.

In Lewisham, the work to build sport and the values of the Olympics (respect, excellence, friendship) into young people’s daily lives has already started.

In the last few weeks, I have visited two fantastic local projects – ParkActive, run by Community Teachsport and Positive Futures, run by the Millwall Community Scheme, both of which are already inspiring the next generation.

Hundreds of young people are trying out sports they would never have thought about. Whether it’s the mini-Olympics being held in 18 local parks by Community Teachsport or the Sports Festivals organised by Positive Futures, the search for Lewisham’s next Olympian is on (Conrad Williams watch out!)

But sport is about so much more than who can be the fastest, the fittest, the strongest.

It can teach us the value of working together as a team and doing your very best, even if you don’t always win. It can bring us into contact with people who may look or sound different, but who have the same feelings, aspirations and challenges.

Yes, the physical legacy of the Olympics is important (the sporting venues, the regeneration of East London, the Olympic Park) but the real legacy is the one that can’t be seen; the one that will stay alive in the minds and memories of thousands of our young people for many years to come and inspire them to be the best they can be.

This article was originally written for the South London Press.

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