On Thursday morning I joined my fellow members of the British Olympic Association (BOA) Athletes Commission at Pudding Lane DLR to embark on a tour of the London 2012 Olympic Park.
The excitement was palpable. For both athletes aiming to compete at the Games themselves and the ‘recently retired’ contingent, the fact that there will be an Opening Ceremony in just 500 days suddenly seemed very real.
So much time is spent in offices paying real attention to detail and making sure that every aspect for delivering the team is planned, debated and tested to give Team GB the best chance of success in 2012. And here we were touring some of the venues in which the plans will be put into practice and Team GB will aim to thrill the fans and inspire the next generation of athletes.
We were warmly welcomed and hosted by staff from the London 2012 Organising Committee and while riding on the bus between the visually stunning stadiums, listening to our guide revealing the facts and figures behind the bricks and mortar, I looked out of the window and was filled with pride; the Olympic Park is going to be an extraordinary place.
The Olympic Park has moved on hugely since I was last here a few months ago; there are many less cranes, the Velodrome is already complete and other venues are very nearly finished. The swimming pools’ Games time seating is now going up, and I wondered how it would feel sitting at the highest seats and watching Team GB athletes perform. Today, there was a lone builder harnessed up there, getting on with his work.
Our tour was about 45 minutes long and we were joined by some athletes from the Malawi National Olympic Committee, providing a reminder that the whole world’s attention is now on London and many athletes will be following in our footsteps, getting ready for their Games, hoping to create their own slice of history.
We returned to the BOA offices on Charlotte Street to have our regular Athletes Commission meeting, and the focus was greater than ever, the debate lively and passionate and we had a very productive meeting. We will continue to ensure that the athlete’s voice is well represented within the BOA.
Clearly, one of the topics on the table for discussion was the use of the surplus funds from the 2012 Olympics which has received a great deal of media attention recently. We received a clear briefing from the BOA leadership and we recognise and support the steps the BOA is taking to ensure there is a post Games legacy that will transform every level of sport in the UK.
The Athletes’ Commission will continue to work with the BOA to achieve this important goal. We have a great deal of confidence in the plans being implemented by the BOA, both in terms of athlete support immediately prior to, during and post the Olympic Games, and in raising the funds necessary to deliver what will be an expanded, but critical, offering of high performance services to the largest British Olympic team for more than a century.
500 days and counting!
Sarah Winckless, Chair of BOA Athletes Commission