Sports and Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson on the importance of this year in the build up to London 2012 and the big sporting events happening in 2011.
Doesn’t time fly! Six years ago I was watching the London 2012 bid team celebrating in Singapore when the International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge announced that London would have the honour of hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. Much has been achieved since that victorious moment back in July 2005 but there are now only 18 months before the London Games next year.
2011 will see the finishing touches being put on the Olympic venues and I believe that this year will be when the public really start to feel the excitement for the Games, as tickets go on sale and plans are put in place for thousands of people to realise the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a volunteer. So far a quarter of a million people have applied to be a London 2012 Games Maker from right across the UK.
Although we don’t have a major international football tournament taking place in 2011, the sporting calendar remains as appealing as ever and I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing all the success to those sportsmen and sportswomen that will be representing either Britain or the home nations.
The Rugby Union World Cup kicks off in September in New Zealand, a country that is incredibly passionate about the game and the All Blacks will no doubt be desperate to win the tournament on home turf. England will be looking to go one better than the last World Cup in 2007 when they lost in the final to South Africa. Before that we do of course have the 6 Nations tournament taking place in February and March, a great and historic competition in any year but one given particular spice with a World Cup around the corner.
2011 will also be a decisive year for our athletes who will have one eye on London 2012 as they start to put their final training schedules together to make sure that they are in peak condition by the time the London Games come round. The stand out athletics meeting this year is, of course, the World Championships that will take place in Daegu, South Korea, in August and like so many other athletics fans I will be looking forward to seeing how Team GB fairs in the last major athletics contest before the big one in 2012!
After such a fantastic performance in Australia with the Ashes success, the England cricket team will be looking to continue their fine form when they participate in the International Cricket Council World Cup, which will be jointly hosted next month by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. With England now looking to be a dominant force in world cricket and draw comparisons to the great Australian and West Indies sides from the past, the tournament gives them the opportunity to go one step closer.
So, like me I hope you’re looking forward to what looks like a fantastic year of sporting action in 2011 and the excitement building up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It’s going to be a busy 12 months for all involved in the Games but it is a project in great shape as we approach the final straight.
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