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Nearly 1800 tickets for London clubs and volunteers
The Olympic Games were clearly a triumph for Britain in many ways and everyone who experienced them will remember those days for all their lives. At the time of writing I am also looking forward to the Paralympic Games. Clearly sports followers and participants all over the country owe Seb Coe a deal of gratitude for getting the Games all those years ago and successfully putting them on.
In London we in athletics have played our part in the overall success. Partly this was planned and partly we have been able to respond to a number of opportunities on a short time-scale. As the Paralympics approach we have been able to distribute nearly 1800 Olympic and Paralympic tickets to London clubs (see below).
Much has already been written and said about our fabulous London community participation scheme, Run! However our Run! team really excelled itself in the Olympics organising Access Events that attracted 7000 participants over the Games themselves. When the totals are known after the Paralympics we will publicise them. Attending a Run! event does not necessarily mean that you will end up running for Team GB or even run again. But sport is a low conversion game – so the more people who try athletics to start the better chance we have of making significant numbers of them long term participants.
Because the experienced officials team in the main stadium knew they could rely on Bob Smith and the London team managers to put on a match for them, some 150 London club athletes were able to compete on the main track and get the full experience of using the facilities two days before the first athletics events. This test event helped Keith Davies and his team iron out last minute wrinkles.
We have also been able to help London club members actually attend the athletics events in considerable numbers. We were able to obtain 660 low-cost pay-for tickets from the BOA to distribute to London clubs for the Olympics and last week we distributed around 1100 athletics tickets for the Paralympics kindly donated by the Mayor of London and the GLA. Nearly 1800 tickets is quite an achievement in my view considering the difficulty most people had obtaining tickets through the LOCOG website. The amount of work involved on behalf of London clubs and volunteers in these exercises should not be under-estimated and I would thank our main London managers, Bob Smith, Rhian Horlock, Nathalie Kavanagh-Clarke and Chris Minn on your behalf, as well as the Run! and Run England Activator teams.
Then there is the small matter of how well some of our athletes have done with Mo Farah, Christine Ohurogu and Robbie Grabarz all belonging to a London club. It is not for me to comment on who did what. But seeing a whole bunch of Team GB athletes doing great things, whom I have seen coming up through our London clubs and competitions like the British League, UK Women’s League, England Schools, London Youth Games made me personally very proud or both them and the people who have made their success possible in a variety of ways.
Lastly before I go all emotional, congratulations to our many successful teams in the various national League competitions that have recently concluded. Pride of place goes to Shaftesbury Barnet Harriers whose Men won the British League for the first time (with their Women also winning promotion to the UKWL Premiership next year) having been in the division for 33 consecutive seasons. Newham and Woodford completed a sweep of the podium positions in the Men’s league with Blackheath Women taking third in the Women’s Premiership. Congratulations also to Enfield Men (winners Div 1) and Herne Hill Women and Men for their promotions. Particular mention goes to SBH’s long-standing manager, Geoff Morphitis, who has been manager for most (all?) of those 33 years for a much deserved success.