Birmingham City Council Leader Mike Whitby explains why his city has every reason to look forward to the 2012 Olympic Games.
When the 2012 Olympic Games were awarded to London back in 2005 Lord Coe threw down the gauntlet to towns and cities across the UK to make sure they grabbed a share of the benefits.
In Birmingham we took that challenge very seriously and – just as the athletes will be doing in 2012 – decided to go for gold. We had the vision five years ago and I am delighted that we have shown the determination to see it through.
Eyebrows were definitely raised when we made public our desire to attract not one but two of the major training camps to our city but subsequent deals with both USA Track and Field and Jamaica have shown we were right to set our sights high.
The prospect of the fastest athletes in the world coming to our city is a mouth-watering one. It means the eyes of the world will be on Birmingham and that global exposure will undoubtedly raise our profile.
We will be placed under an intense worldwide media spotlight in the build-up to the Games and we can show the best that our city has to offer.
But this isn’t just about enhancing Birmingham’s reputation as a global city. The two training camps will create a significant boost to the local economy – with conservative estimates suggesting the economic impact of the USA and Jamaican teams will exceed £15m.
Welcoming the likes of Usain Bolt to Birmingham will also have a lasting impact on the city’s sporting pedigree and a planned schools engagement programme can only serve to inspire our young people.
The citizens of Birmingham have a once in a lifetime opportunity to see dedicated athletes at the peak of their powers as they fine-tune their preparations for the Games.
Lord Coe himself summed it up when he said Birmingham was setting an example for other cities and we have every reason to look forward to the 2012 Olympic Games with real excitement.
There was of course stiff competition to attract the top teams but, to use the Olympic motto, Birmingham is making the most of 2012 because we were faster off the marks than our rivals, we aimed higher and our case proved to be stronger.
Birmingham’s Jamaica 2012 deal
Birmingham’s USA 2012 deal
Image courtesy of flickr member Birmingham News Room.