Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The Olympics

Britain looks set to have its most successful Olympics ever, with athletes making history and, in some cases, winning events we have never won before. I spent last Saturday night with friends and watched what was undoubtedly the best night for British athletics in a lifetime, with Team GB collecting three gold medals in the space of just one hour. Mo Farah made history by being the first British man ever to win gold in the Olympic 10,000 metres, Greg Rutherford seemed to surprise himself with his extraordinary performance in the Long Jump and the determined performance by Jessica Ennis to win that final 800m metre event in her heptathlon and take overall victory was a priceless moment of the Games.

Cornish athletes have also played a big part in the success of Team GB with seven athletes in the team in all. It was great to see Helen Glover drive ahead to take Britain’s first gold of the Games and to watch the tenacious Ben Ainsley win the sailing for the fourth time, a remarkable achievement.

The pride across the country during these Olympic Games makes the riots which shamed some of Britain’s cities a year ago feel like a completely different era. Much has been said about the importance of a legacy from the Olympics but I hope that the most important legacy will be a whole new generation of young people inspired to take up sport and strive to do their best. In the space of just two weeks, we have seen the emergence of many new role models for young people and they come from all sorts of different backgrounds and reflect the diverse nature of Britain today. The great thing about sporting role models is that they are not just about celebrity for the sake of it, they are first and foremost about real achievement and excellence through hard work and dedication and their notoriety becomes incidental.

Earlier this summer, Cornwall held its second Schools Games where over three thousand young people from Cornish Schools took part in over 20 different sports and I presented the awards at the athletics contest at Carn Brea. It was like a mini version of the Olympics Games and I think it is a great way of raising the status of sport in our schools. I used to be a member of Cornwall Athletic Club when I was younger and running was my passion. I was not fast enough to make the Olympic Team but have fond memories of my time running for Cornwall and it is great to see Cornwall Athletic Club going strong today. At that time, the rivalry between Coe and Ovett boosted middle distance running for years. Let’s hope that these Olympic Games kick starts a golden era for British sport.

George Eustice can be contacted at george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk or 1 Trevenson Street, Camborne, Cornwall TR14 8JD or by telephone on 020 72197032.