Pauline Latham: How Olympics have inspired the next generation
By Derby Telegraph | Friday, August 10, 2012, 07:30
OVER the last couple of weeks, Great Britain has been swept up in the Olympic Fever.
I remember the excitement that was generated back in the summer of 2005 when we heard that London was going to host the Olympic Games in 2012. It all seemed such a long time away and now here we are, all smitten with how brilliantly our athletes are doing – and we still have the Paralympics to go.
Having been there on Tuesday, I sampled the electric atmosphere for myself.
In addition to the excitement of the games, something even more important is happening – the Olympic Legacy.
People, young and old, are being inspired to take part in all kinds of sport, whether competitive or not. If it continues beyond the next couple of months, the health of our nation could be improved and it should be encouraged by government, by our councils and by our media.
It will be football for some, swimming, cycling or just walking, it doesn't matter.
Nationally, the achievements of British athletes such as Sir Chris Hoy, the amazing Jessica Ennis, Laura Trott, Victoria Pendleton and Bradley Wiggins will all inspire the next generation in both sport and education.
The Olympic Legacy has also had a profound effect on a young artist from Derbyshire, Paul Cummins. Paul is renowned for his ceramic works, and was commissioned to create a "Ceramic Flower Garden" for Parliament's prominent Cromwell Green. This piece of artwork has been seen by thousands of people every day in London, and earlier this week I hosted a celebration of Paul's achievement in the House of Commons.
The Games will also bring a clear economic legacy, by demonstrating just how creative, inclusive and welcoming a place Great Britain is to visit and do business in.
During these tough economic times, this is even more important.
Already, the 2012 games are having an impact in my constituency of Mid Derbyshire. Derby College was provided with almost £50,000 by Sport England's Olympic Legacy Funding, allowing it to develop a full-sized playing field in Morley. This means, for the first time, students will be able to play grass-pitch matches, including football, hockey, rounders and other sports, at home without having to travel for miles. In addition, the local primary school in Morley will able to use it. The playing field will also have funding to be protected and maintained for at least 25 years – a truly lasting and sustainable legacy.
There have been many more grants worth tens of thousands of pounds in my constituency.
They include £9,900 to Milford and Makeney Community Group to install new children's equipment at the local play area and £8,000 to Stanley and Stanley Common Parish Council to construct an exercise trail.
These really are projects will make a huge difference to so many communities within Derbyshire.
The positive effect that the Olympic Legacy will have on Derby is plain for all to see.
And now that Derby has given the go-ahead for the velodrome, we might see the flurry of gold medals in Rio coming from athletes living on our doorstep.