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Run With An Idea

Welcome to my first Run With An Idea post! A project that came to life after a passionate debate between Carrie and I at this year’s CybHer convention.
After months of following Carrie’s blog (Carrie On Running – you need to check it out if you haven’t already) and weeks of talking online, I was so excited to finally have the chance to meet in person. We got on like a house on fire and covered everything including running, blogging and blogging about running.
One of the main points in our discussion was the lack of informed, lively debate among running bloggers. A good friend recently hit the nail on the head when he said that there seems to be an unspoken agreement only to say nice things about other fitness bloggers. Of course, it’s nice to be nice, but it does lead to so-called debates on thought-provoking topics being rather … dull.

So, we want to spice things up. To give everyone a chance to voice their opinion and to encourage healthy among our fellow bloggers. Already there have been some brilliant posts written on the first topic, everyone coming from a slightly different perspective. We don’t all need to agree, or restrict our comments to “interesting post” if we disagree. So get stuck in, let me know what you think! And don’t forget to visit our linkup post to see what everyone else thought.

The Olympics One Year On : Did We Inspire A Generation?

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Our first topic is the Olympic legacy. We’re coming up to the one year anniversary of the London Games, the slogan of which was ‘Inspire A Generation’. One year on and has that goal been achieved?

For me, the Olympics was like an extra special birthday present. On my birthday, I watched the final stage of the torch relay pass through central London. I held my birthday party on the same night as the Opening Ceremony – how many people can say their 30th birthday is memorable because it was the night the Queen went parachuting with James Bond?

Becca writes about a certain lack of enthusiasm for the Olympics in the years between London winning the bid in 2005 and the Games taking place in 2012, which is certainly something that I can relate to. From the day after we won the bid, to a few months before the Opening Ceremony, I would say the public attitude was a bit uncertain – should we be doing this?

I don’t remember much about 6th July 2005 – the day that London won the bid – because it has been totally overshadowed by the terrorist bombings on 7/7. As well as the grief and outrage as we mourned those who had died, Londoners suddenly felt unsafe, paranoid and anxious about travelling around our beautiful, brash city. There were many uneasy conversations that winning the bid to host the 2012 Olympics had painted a huge target on London.

In 2008 the credit crunch hit, and as house prices plummeted and unemployment figures rose, we wondered how we could possibly justify spending billions on a sporting event, particularly when we could never hope match the grandeur of the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony. The Olympics would not only bankrupt us but make us an international laughing stock to boot.

The 2010 Commonwealth Games in India and the stories of unfinished stadiums and shoddy facilities – coupled with news that our own construction projects were behind schedule – fuelled further speculation that we would never be ready on time.

And in 2011 we had the riots. The madness swept through London like wildfire and then spread to the rest of the country. Rather than worry about terrorism or national bankruptcy, we wondered whether the British youth were so alienated that they were attacking their own communities. Were we pouring resources into the Olympics when what we needed to do was fix a broken society?

I didn’t even get excited when the tickets went on sale. I was so confused by the ballot system that I lost patience and didn’t bother applying for any – something that I will probably regret for the rest of my life!
At work, we started to get emails about travel disruptions during the Olympics. My boss actually decided it was all too much hassle and made arrangements to avoid London altogether and spend the summer working in Monaco.

I think the turning point came just a month before the Olympics. The Jubilee bought people together to celebrate, even if all they were celebrating was an extra bank holiday, and we realised that we didn’t have to be embarrassed about cheering and waving flags.

Then the country got swept up in the excitement of having successful athletes – Bradley Wiggins made history as he became the first British athlete to win Tour de France, and Andy Murray reached the Wimbledon final. Instead of complaining about overcrowding on the Jubilee line during the games, we started to excitedly discuss the British athletes – we called them Team GB and Our Greatest Team. Olympic mascots and signage started to pop up around London, I remember being insanely proud the day that the Olympic signs went up in Wembley – actual Olympic medals would be earned within a stone’s throw of my house!

It was simply amazing to be in London during the Games. Everyone seemed happier and friendlier, from the crowds of tourists to the Olympic volunteers (and how brilliant that in a city often criticised for being hostile and rude, the volunteers who have up their time were so widely praised). It didn’t matter if you didn’t have a ticket, crowds gathered in front of specially erected screens across the city to watch the action alongside other people. I don’t think I watched any coverage alone.

I wanted to challenge myself during the Olympics by trying new sports, I ran a relay race, went to a canoe lesson, had a go at volleyball and tried my hand at archery. At each class, I asked if they had more interest since the Olympics had started and each instructor said that yes, the Games were fantastic, people wanted to try the sports that they had watched on TV for themselves. People were definitely inspired.

Nearly a year on, are we still inspired? British athletes are still a success story – Andy Murray won the Wimbledon men’s singles final last weekend,
Nicola Adams won a gold medal at the European Amateur Boxing Championships (along with Lisa Whiteside and Savannah Marshall),
Chris Froome is wearing the yellow jersey and Mark Cavendish has entered the record books with the greatest number of Tour de France stage wins. The Women’s UEFA Euro championship is about to start, for the first time in a long time England might actually have a chance at lifting the trophy – but what about us? Do we still care?

John thinks it might to be too early to tell, Becca says we’ll need to wait until future Games to see how many athletes were inspired by London 2012.

Kat writes about her son’s continued enthusiasm for Olympic events and increased numbers among the juniors at her running club, but wonders if this interest can be sustained without additional resources being channelled into sport? Neil mentions that the Olympics may have actually had a negative effect on participation among ordinary folk.
Mollie’s survey revealed that nearly 80% of respondents feel that work commitments get in their way of participating in sport and Carrie wonders how we will ever manage to inspire the next generation if we can’t manage to make time for ourselves.

I think that the potential is there. The Olympics showed me that we still care about sport, but sometimes we need extra help to translate this enthusiasm into participation. I don’t just mean more funding from the government or more publicity for local sports clubs. I mean getting a bit of a kick up the backside and deciding this week I won’t stay late at work every evening or that I’ll spend that £20 on an archery workshop instead of buying two bottles of wine.

That’s why I want to end with a challenge – during this summer year try out one new sport from the Olympic schedule and blog about it. Lets shine a light on some of the small clubs and coaches who are working at grass roots level, if we can inspire one other person to try something new then the Olympic legacy lives on.

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