Suffolk: Call to ‘seize the opportunity’ and use Olympics to inspire a generation

WITH the curtain just down on a highly-successful Olympics, attention has already turned to the Games’ legacy in Suffolk.

And while there are many strands to the impact of London 2012, chief among them is the sporting and health legacies.

Suffolk Sport has called on the county to “seize the opportunity” and use the Games to inspire a generation to be more active.

Figures from the Department of Health show nearly one in four Suffolk adults and 17.5% of Year 6 schoolchildren are classed as obese.

Terry McEntee, operating manager at Suffolk Sport, said he was confident London 2012 would increase take-up of sport and consequently improve people’s health.

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“It’s providing a great inspirational starting point for promoting opportunities that are there currently and increasing them in the future,” he added. “The memories of this will last with people and we’re hopeful it will be a long-term benefit.

“I’m confident that we will see an improvement. We have never had in our lifetime something as big and inspirational as the London Olympics and Paralympics.”

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He said there are strategies in place to capitalise on the success of London 2012, including more than 600 Suffolk sporting sessions being laid on post Games. Meanwhile in the longer term there are moves to increase competitive sport in schools, improve community sports facilities, encourage 14 to 25-year-olds to carry on with sport and get more volunteers to run sports sessions.

But Peter Funnell, executive director of Healthy Ambitions Suffolk, warned against relying on the legacy of the games too much.

“The 2012 Olympics is not a panacea – it won’t resolve all our ills,” he said. “But it has clearly demonstrated what we can achieve with effort and planning. So perhaps then the greatest legacy of the Games is the realisation that the UK through its heritage and creativity still rightfully enjoys a central spot on the global stage.

“The London Olympics have been a marvellous spectacle and has presented much of what is unique and best about the UK – the invention and humour of the opening ceremony, the performance of our athletes and the selfless contribution of many thousands of volunteers.”

Councillor Colin Noble, cabinet member for the Olympics at Suffolk County Council, said: “Lord Coe made a promise to inspire. Now we all have to do our bit.

“The spectacle of the London 2012 Games might be over but the real work has only just begun.

“Lord Coe’s now famous promise to use the Games to inspire people to be more physically active was made in a conference centre in Singapore – but it’s in Suffolk’s sports halls and swimming pools and on our streets where that ambition must become a reality.

“The Olympic legacy, as it is known, is something Suffolk County Council takes extremely seriously and is investing time and energy into leading in the county.”

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