London Olympic Games Organising Committee Chairman, Sebastian Coe made a passionate plea today for the United Kingdom’s sporting organisations to unite behind the London 2012 Olympic Games to produce the country’s most successful ever Olympic and Paralympic teams.

In a moving address to UK Sport’s Major Events Conference in central London, Coe said that preparing UK athletes for medals success at the London 2012 Games is “one of our biggest challenges over the next seven years” – the same period of time that saw Coe emerge from winning the English Schools Championships to winning gold in the 1500 metres at the 1980 Moscow Games.

“Seven years before winning my gold medal in Moscow, I had won the English School Championships.  We didn’t have the support structures then that we have now.  We didn’t have the advantages of lottery funding underpinning world class plans or the support mechanisms for elite athletes that have developed over the last decade.

“Quite simply the Games are the biggest opportunity sport in this country has ever had. It is one that we must not squander,” said Coe who also led London’s successful Olympic Games Bid, which he described to conference delegates as “the highlight of my sporting career.”

Coe urged sporting leaders and officials to work together to deliver the best possible training and coaching structures to give UK athletes the best chance of winning medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

“We must all face up to these challenges and all sporting bodies must work and plan together to get these structures right,” said Coe. “I will not rest until we have hosted a great Games providing a platform for a top performing Great Britain team.”

Coe said it is vital for the British Olympic team to achieve the same high medal-winning performances at the London 2012 Games as athletes from previous Olympic host cities and countries, including Spain, which went from one gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Games to 13 gold medals four years later at the Barcelona Games, with an additional six silver medals.

“My plea now is for sport in the UK – as I’m sure it does – to recognise that we have a unique opportunity for governing bodies to work as one with UK Sport, sport councils, the BOA and the BPA to ensure we get support structures right for our young stars of the future.”

HOK appointed to produce technical briefs for all venues

Coe also told the conference that along with important early construction work on the Olympic Park site, venue plans for the London Games were also continuing to advance rapidly. He also announced the appointment of Olympic venue specialists HOK to produce technical briefs for London Olympic and Paralympic Games sports venues.

The appointment, which followed a tender process, will see the HOK team of venue experts prepare the technical briefs for each of the venues in Olympic Park and the outlying venues where permanent work is required. The team includes experts from around the world with experience of 11 Olympic Games. The Technical Briefs will form the basis of the design and planning – a functional specification – for how the venues need to be constructed to meet the needs of the Olympic and Paralympics.

“The London Games will be designed for the athletes and we will provide them with the very best venues and the very best conditions to pursue their sporting dreams in London,” Coe said.

It is essential, however, Coe said, that benefits from new sporting structures and much needed new sports venues are part of a broader London Games legacy that inspires future generations of young people to participate in sport.

“Let there be no doubt that we won the bid essentially because we put young people and sport at the heart of our vision and we now have to reach out and inspire youth at home and all over the world.” 

Coe acknowledged the important contributions made by UK sporting bodies such as the British Olympic Authority (BOA), the British Paralympic Authority (BPA) and others in helping to bring the Olympic Games back to London.

“The London 2012 Bid team did not win the bid on its own. It was won by all of us working together for the ultimate prize. We must now work in partnership to ensure that we realise its true potential over the next seven years and the decades belong,” he said.

Sports Commission announced

London 2012 Director of Sport, Debbie Jevans, told conference delegates that the Olympic Organising Committee is establishing a Sports Commission which will include Olympic and Paralympic athletes to provide feedback to organisers on sporting matters, from the sports competition schedule to conditions in the Athletes Village.

“This commission will enable the important contribution made by the Athletes Advisory Group during the Bid to continue in the vital planning and delivery phases for the London Games, “Ms Jevans said.

“The Sports Commission will ensure that that the athletes will continue to have significant input into conditions and facilities and other key areas relating to the participation of athletes at the London Games. It will ensure that sport and the athletes remain at the heart of our planning,” she said.

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