With London 2012 due to get underway in just a few days’ time, the world’s attention will soon be focused on the incredible sporting achievements of the world’s greatest athletes.
But the Games are not just about the record-breaking feats that are sure to be witnessed in the Olympic Stadium and at venues across London and the UK; they can also provide long-term sporting legacies, which provide benefits long after the Games have finished.
From new state-of-the-art sporting facilities to increased participation in organised sport, the Games can create a variety of sporting legacies and are a powerful tool to help promote and develop sport not only in the host city itself, but also in the host region and host country.
Helping to create sporting legacies
The London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) has already initiated a number of programmes to help create sporting legacies from this year’s Games, which former Olympic triple jump champion Jonathan Edwards, who has been working with LOCOG for the last seven years, was keen to highlight on Monday.
“There are two things you need to create sports legacy,” he explained. “You need inspiration, and we as an Organising Committee are 110% focused on delivering an amazing Games, and that will provide inspiration, of that I have absolutely no doubt.
“You also need the opportunity,” he continued. “All the excitement in the world, all the inspiration in the world, will only last a couple of weeks if you don't have the right places to go and to follow it through. What we have been doing over the last six or seven years is to make sure that is the case; that the opportunity is there.”
The Get Set programme
LOCOG’s work to build a legacy from the Games includes Get Set – the official London 2012 education programme – which has been initiated in over 26,000 schools, helping to encourage young people aged 3-19 to find out more about the Games and explore the Olympic Values of excellence, friendship and respect, while also getting involved in sport.
LOCOG has also looked further afield than the host country, with the International Inspiration programme benefiting 13 million children in 20 different countries through high-quality and inclusive physical education, sport and play.
New sporting facilities
The construction of new sporting facilities, such as the Olympic Stadium, Velodrome and Lee Valley White Water Centre, has also provided a legacy from the Games, with London set to host a number of elite level sporting events in the years following London 2012, including the 2015 World Athletics Championships and the 2015 World Canoe Slalom Championships.
Edwards was also keen to stress that the sporting legacies of London 2012 will not solely be restricted to the elite level, highlighting the power that the 2012 Games will have to inspire young people to take up sport.
“It is the young kids who will be sitting there at home, some of them will come and watch in the stadiums, who will see the best athletes in the world and the best British athletes doing amazing things, and want to get up off their sofa, on to their feet, into local clubs, into their schools, and try it for themselves, but we have to build the right foundation for that,” he explained. “I think one of the things I am most proud of, as a member of the Organising Committee, is that we have never lost track of that twin goal of a great sporting event and a legacy afterwards.”