Weymouth and Portland are hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Sailing events this summer – and lots of other activities. Julia Smith, from our roving press team, keeps us up to date with the sporting highlights on the south coast.
Weymouth was near bursting point this weekend with the excitement and anticipation of Ben Ainslie winning his fourth sailing gold medal.
People in the town had been waiting years and months for ‘Ben Ainslie Sunday’ and while the rain poured down over the women’s marathon race in London the sun was blazing down in Weymouth and Portland.
Walking along the town looked the epitome of British seaside resort – with an Olympic twist. London 2012 banners fluttered along the Esplanade, sailing boats moored in the harbour were covered with multi-coloured Olympic bunting, windsurfers and kayakers filled the sea, and the Live Site on the beach was full to capacity.
The atmosphere was electric and it was a great backdrop to Hugh Robertson’s visit. He was in high media demand and like a true pro, Hugh was not fazed when his live interview with BBC News Channel on the beach was overrun by over 20 children crowding round him with flags and bubbling with excitement. It was a moment which summed up the atmosphere of the day and demonstrated how the Games have caught the imaginations of young people.
This enthusiasm continued during a tour of the Sports Arena where he met sand covered children with tousled hair and beaming smiles who had just taking up the chance to try out kayaking for the first time.
Sporting inspiration for the next generation
The Sports Arena, where children are able to try sports like sailing, beach volleyball, rugby and cricket for free, is one of the true success stories of the Weymouth Games, with 5,000 children a day passing through its doors and all their details captured so they can receive information about getting involved in sport.
When it came to the racing every spare bit of sea facing land was taken. The spectators on the Nothe had an amazing view of the competition while people without tickets found rocks, hills or grassy corners to watch the action from. It was a great advert for sailing as a spectator sport and of course when Ainslie clinched it, it was a great moment for British sailing and Team GB.