Would you Adam n Eve it? An Olympics boss for Suffolk

It has been called the Greatest Show on Earth. And certainly in terms of the number of people taking part, the number clamouring to watch – and the number involved in preparing for it – it must be just that.

The Olympics is huge, and not just because it involves so many different sports. In fact, it goes far beyond sport.

And despite the familiar brand of London 2012, it goes far beyond the capital city too.

Who would have thought Suffolk County Council would need a specialist Olympics Project Manager?

Yet when you meet Adam Baker you quickly realise what a vital role he has to play.

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A role almost as varied, it turns out, as the list of sports featuring in the Games themselves.

Formerly sports development officer for Ipswich borough, Adam has held his Olympic role with the county since 2007. And he is clearly as excited as anyone about the coming Games.

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“It’s not just a sporting event,” he says. “People often look on the Olympics as a sporting event, but its regional impact is much wider.

“No organising committee before has tried to benefit the whole nation. With every previous Olympics it’s always been about the host city, whereas from the start with London it’s been about using the Games as a catalyst to engage the whole country.

“My role is about how the county can benefit from the Games. There are quite a lot of opportunities.

“From a financial point of view, it’s been estimated that the Games should benefit the county by about �66million.

“Some 900 Suffolk companies have bid for Olympics-related contracts, and some have won work.

“Most of them are covered by a confidentiality clause. But one that is allowed to publicise the fact that they’re doing Olympic work is a film company called Bruizer, at Rendlesham.

“And the county council transport department will be helping to bus athletes around. So that provides us with a link to the Games and is also an income-provider for the council.

“Then there is the tourism opportunity the Games represents.

“We want to encourage people to come to the county while the Games are on – and to come back after they’re over.

“It’s estimated there will be about 22,000 unaccredited foreign journalists and broadcasters in England during the Games. We want to provide the hooks to bring them here, sending views and images of the county back home.

“So there’s a clear financial aspect, but also there’s a softer side, an opportunity to inspire people in a whole range of ways.

“Sporting events we’ve brought to the county on the back of the Games include the Great East Swim, a one-mile open-water swim at Alton Water in June.

“That involved 3,000 swimmers, and research after the event suggests people are continuing to swim afterwards. So far 315 Suffolk schools have registered for Get Set, the official London 2012 education programme – that’s 80 per cent of our schools, more than the national average.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s about inspiring learning, about using the Games as a tool to do that. [It can also, for the lucky ones, mean access to free tickets to the Games.]

“There are cultural programmes, such as the Cultural Olympiad. People don’t associate culture with the Olympics, but if you look right back to the ancient Games, cultural activity’s been very much involved.

“Things such as On Landguard Point – a series of large-scale public events culminating in a community-made feature film to premiere next year – have happened because of the Olympics.

“We’ve established a Suffolk 2012 volunteering legacy project. One of the key things has been establishing a volunteering events team, people who can be deployed to sporting events around the county.

“There’s the Lap of Honour exhibition at Moyses Hall Museum in Bury, celebrating the achievements of all Suffolk’s Olympians of the past, and the aspirations of our possible future Olympians.

“And of course there’s the Olympic torch relay, which – like the Games themselves – is about inspiring and connecting people.

“The relay will be in Ipswich on July 5, with a big evening celebration in Christchurch Park.

“The precise route of the relay will be revealed in November, when a lot of communities will be delighted and a lot of others no doubt disappointed.

“We’re hoping for a lunchtime stop somewhere in Suffolk. The actual torchbearers will be named in February.

“It’s amazing how the flame engages people. It’s the closest a lot of people will get to the Games.

“It’s about reaching out, spreading the Olympic values – respect, excellence and friendship.”

Big ideals for the biggest of all events.But what happens when the Olympics and Paralympics are over? Adam Baker is almost evangelical about it.

“The important thing,” he insists, “is that legacy doesn’t stop.

“In many ways, when the Olympic flame goes out, that’s when the Olympic legacy really starts.

“Sport and tourism, in particular, are the two key areas post-Games where there’s a real advantage to be had. It’s a huge opportunity to get people into sport – and to keep them in sport on the back of the Games.”

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