Lord Coe's Olympic message to region

OLYMPIC chief Lord Sebastian Coe has urged communities to make the most of London 2012 and seize the opportunities it will provide.

Craig Robinson

OLYMPIC chief Lord Sebastian Coe has urged communities to make the most of London 2012 and seize the opportunities it will provide.

The athletics legend was in Bury St Edmunds yesterday as part of whistle-stop tour of the region that also included Braintree and Chelmsford.

The chairman of the 2012 organising committee said Suffolk was rising to the Olympic challenge and was particularly impressed with the work currently being carried out to encourage people to get active and defuse the county's obesity time bomb.

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He said the Healthy Ambitions Suffolk Challenge - a project to make the county's children the fittest in the country - was a shining example of how the London Games can leave a lasting effect.

Lord Coe said: “There is an extraordinary amount of commitment and enthusiasm that's already taken place.

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“It's clear the county council is rising to the challenge. Healthy Ambitions, to get children more active and involved in sport - that's happened off the back of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It's very encouraging.

“However, we're not just talking about the next three years. Getting more young people active and leading a healthy lifestyle is very important. If the Olympics and Paralympics can act as an inspiration - that's the legacy we want to leave. Suffolk is working hard to achieve that.”

Lord Coe also encouraged communities to get involved in the preparations for the Olympic and Paralympic Games and seize the opportunities available.

“London 2012 is an extraordinary chance,” he said. “Not just for sport but for businesses, tourism, arts and culture. It will have an affect on all of these and it's important to make the most of the opportunity.”

Figures have shown that one in six 11-year-olds in Suffolk are classified as obese - prompting fears this could put a massive strain on health services in the future.

Around 6,000 youngsters have already signed up to Healthy Ambitions, which was launched at the end of April to encourage children to be active for an hour a day every day.

Every primary school pupil in the county can take part in the challenge and will receive a free activity item and card demonstrating how they can incorporate exercise into their daily lives.

Along with Healthy Ambitions Lord Coe was also told about Fit4Future, a subsidised gym membership pilot-scheme designed to get young people aged 16-22 active and the Great East Swim, which is taking place at Alton Water near Ipswich in September.

He also viewed sporting facilities in Bury St Edmunds and met Suffolk Olympians and Paralympians along with young local athletes with SportsAid scholarships who are hoping to compete at London 2012.

Earlier in the day Lord Coe visited a BMX track in Braintree and also toured facilities in Chelmsford and Cambridge.

If you would like to sign up to the Healthy Ambitions Suffolk Challenge visit www.suffolkchallenge.co.uk .

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