Executive Blog: Olympics edge closer to Surrey
18 August 2011
Paul Blanchard, Chief Executive of the Surrey Sports Park, writes to update on preparations for the Olympics:
With less than 12 months to go before the opening ceremony at the London 2012 Olympic Games, the build up is really gathering pace.
The most obvious example of the preparations being in full swing was the recent London-Surrey Classic Road Race, encouragingly won by GB cyclist and Tour De France star, Mark Cavendish. The event was enthusiastically supported all along the route which emphasises how supportive the nation is towards the event. It also gave a small insight into the level of disruption which will be caused during the games next year, with major road closures for most of the day. I suggest you don’t try driving anywhere on the weekend of 28 July next year when the men’s and women’s races take place!
This is one of a series of Test Events, called London Prepares, taking place including the Equestrian competition at Greenwich and the Beach Volleyball at Horse Guards Parade. This surreal "beach competition” took place in the shadow of the Cabinet Office where, at the same time, David Cameron was hosting a COBRA meeting to discuss the recent riots – an obvious and ominous concern to all those involved in the Games.
More pertinently for Surrey Sports Park, Hyde Park hosted the Test Triathlon Event which provided GB success through Alistair Brownlee who trains at University of Leeds. The competition also featured a silver medal for USA athlete Gwen Jorgensen who, along with the rest of the USA Triathlon squad, have been using our Sports Park as a training base. It is likely that they will be back several times ahead of London next year.
Also training at SSP over the last few weeks have been Singapore, who have been using the exercise as a 'shadow camp' for next year with the bulk of their athletes forming their table tennis and badminton squads. The badminton team used the camp as a stepping stone to competing at the World Championships at Wembley Arena, where they performed credibly. There was a surprise British success in the event with a silver media for Chris Adcock and Imogen Bankier in the mixed doubles.
GB Basketball women have recently completed a major training camp at Surrey Sports Park and their preparations continue with a number of warm up tournaments. At the time of writing, their male counterparts are about to compete in the first competitive tournament within the Olympic Park against tough opposition in The Basketball Arena.
The majority of the focus is, understandably, on the Olympics but we should also remember that it will be immediately followed by The Paralympic Games which starts on the 29 August. Surrey Sports Park is also heavily involved in preparations for this event. Recently we held a significant GB Paralympic trials event and will shortly host the first of a number of swim camps from the Croatian Paralympic Association.
So, it is clear that the sporting preparations are well underway, but that is also true for many other aspects of the event. Sponsors are ramping up their efforts to leverage their assets and capitalise on the enormous profile of the Games and details of a very exciting partnership between the University of Surrey and Samsung around the Olympic Torch Relay will be announced very shortly, which will offer “the chance of a lifetime”. Volunteering opportunities are being identified in large numbers, events for cultural Olympiad are beginning to be announced and, of course, the scramble for tickets goes on.
Surrey Sports Park will be a major source of information as the Games approaches, particularly regarding the teams and athletes that will be using the facility as a base – keep in touch through the SSP website or for an immediate source of information find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.