Well done to all our Olympic athletes. Thank you to their coaches, families, schools, Colleges and other backers. The nation has enjoyed the spectacle, taken pride in a games well executed, and shown pride in the great success of many competitors from Team GB.
Now there is discussion of the legacy. An important part of East London gains a fine new park, good new housing, and a range of glittering facilities. Let’s hope more jobs, enterprise and success follow in their footsteps. The organisers and government need to help find a new owner and user for the Stadium.
Many want to see more sport in schools and Colleges, to keep the flame of the Games burning. That may be possible. In the short term the massive television coverage will ensure many more young people want to take up competitive sports, and strive harder to raise their own game. We can only expect that to continue if parents and teachers, sports clubs and sports organisers, encourage and help young athletes to make the commitment and put in the time and effort. What seems possible or fun in a summer of Olympic success, may not look the same in a couple of years in mid winter when the young athlete has to choose between more leisure time and putting in those extra training sessions early in the morning or in the evening instead of going out with friends. That’s when the enthusiasm of family members, teachers and coaches matters most.
For most of us sport is a pleasure, a pastime, not a driving ambition. It is good to be sufficiently capable at a team sport to be able to play a satisfactory amateur game. Like all things in life, you get more out of it if you can find time to put more into it. If I practice my cricket a bit I do get luckier at it! We look to schools to make sport sufficiently accessible and enough fun for the many to want to be able to join in. We look to our specialists to identify the serious talent who want to be the champions, and to work with them come rain come wind come snow until they too can challenge with the best in the world.
It has been a pleasure to see a couple of weeks of good news bulletins. A succession of interviews with winning UK competitors – and the occasional ones who nearly won – has been heartening. Their message has been uniform. They have a great sense of achievement. They know they owe a lot to their friends, families and coaches. They always say you only win if you work and work and work again. That’s true of a lot of things in life, where there are no medals. There are other rewards for providing good service, running a successful business, or assisting the public good. It is always a pleasure to know a job has been well done, and to see the good response that produces in others.