Olympics Legacy and Growth Minister Bob Neill takes up the blogging reins today, to tell us about his experience visiting beautiful Weymouth on the South Coast – and how the sporting legacy is already in action…
After another visit to Weymouth and Portland, my fondness for the area has grown yet more. Recently, I’ve been lucky enough to visit for both the Olympic torch relay and to catch some of the sailing events during Games time, but the most memorable part of both trips has definitely been the fabulously warm welcome I have received from everyone here – everywhere I go!
Team GB has an amazing array of medals to show for their efforts, and we are all so proud of them. But the really great thing about the Games is that they truly are GB wide. People not only get to see how wonderful the Olympic Park in London is, they also get to see the outstanding beauty of the Jurassic Coast in which the sailing events are taking place. A worldwide audience of about four billion people have seen TV footage of the sailing in Weymouth and Portland, and as lovely as it looks on a big screen, there’s nothing quite like seeing the rugged beauty of this world heritage coastline in the flesh. I just hope that anyone who has witnessed the sunny sailing scenes on TV feels encouraged to think about a visit for their next holiday.
My visits have also provided a wonderful opportunity to explore the town and see firsthand some of the key local projects – including the sports arena on the beach, where children are getting the chance to try a wide range of sports for free. To date, around 50,000 youngsters have been able to try out a wide range of sports whilst they’ve been here. Their details have been captured, and they’ll be sent information on how they can get involved in sport in their local area. These are fantastic figures, but the sports arena will be running until the end of the Paralympics, so who knows how many will have visited by then. This really demonstrates the Olympic legacy in action: any one of these children could be a potential Olympian or Paralympian in the future.
As Olympics Legacy and Growth Minister, I’ve also been very keen to test out the infrastructure that has been put in place to ensure that we are able to host the Olympics in a safe and enjoyable way. Amongst other projects, large investments were made in the Weymouth and Portland area before the Games to travel and transport. On each of my visits I’ve been delighted by how easy it is to travel in and around the local area. It’s been fantastic to see how all of the early investment and planning has allowed the Games to run smoothly here, and this will benefit the local area through the Games period and beyond.
I couldn’t be more proud of our athletes, Games Makers and everyone else across the length and breadth of the country who has worked tirelessly to ensure that the Games have been such a fantastic success. We’ve really shown as a nation that we are passionate and welcoming – and that being British is GREAT.
Along with everyone else, I will be sad to see the end of the Olympic Games. However, I am now counting down to the start of the Paralympics, and all the excitement that will bring. Most of all though, I can’t wait to go back and visit Weymouth and Portland.