This is an important month for major multi-sport events – marking the start of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and 10 years since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It feels like a good time to reflect on the subject of legacy.
I had the privilege of being involved in the once in a generation Olympic Games. I worked on the Mountain Bike events at Hadleigh Park in Essex, which gave me the confidence and motivation to take up a key role in leading Active Essex after the Games had finished.
At the time, there was genuine belief from the organisers that staging an Olympic sport in Essex would inspire people across the county. This was endorsed with the fact that Hadleigh is the only Mountain Biking Olympic venue to remain available for the public. At all other Olympics, the venues were dismantled. The foresighted decision makers in Essex in 2012 bought into the belief that Olympic venues can inspire the public to be active long after the event. Now, the people of Essex are excited to be able to do Mountain Biking at an Olympic venue, and Hadleigh has since been developed into a multi-sport facility including paddleboarding and walking. During the lockdowns of Covid, Hadleigh Park played a pivotal role in enabling thousands of people to sustain their mental and physical health by enjoying the outstanding beauty of Hadleigh Country Park.
London 2012 showed that Essex can deliver elite and mass participation events, and this has continued across the past 10 years, from the Tour De France stage in 2014, the Cycling World Tour this year, and attracting RideLondon to Essex this year which is the largest mass participation cycling event in the world.
Active Essex held Summer School Games events earlier this month inspired by the Commonwealth Games, enabling over 500 children to enjoy a wide range of sports and activities such as African Dance and Drumming, Athletics, Panathlon, and Archery.
I believe our delivery of legacy planning is improving with every major sporting event staged in the UK, ensuring that these events continue to inspire people from all communities to reap the many mental, physical and social benefits that an active lifestyle can offer.