Suffolk: County fired up by the spirit of London 2012

With just one year to go until the official opening of the 30th Olympic Games, preparations for the London 2012 are entering the home straight.

The world’s biggest sporting event comes to Britain this time next year and Suffolk is marking the occasion by recognising our Olympic heroes and hopefuls.

The county council’s headquarters in Ipswich is set to host a special celebration gathering of some of Suffolk’s most talented sporting prospects.

Meanwhile, a year-long multimedia exhibition is about to open in commemoration of Suffolk’s competitors and supporters who have taken part in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, including Bill Tancred and Stan Cox.

Tancred, now a top sports administrator, competed at the 1968 and 1972 Olympics in the discus and also remains one of the top ten British shot putters.

He was born in Pakistan, but grew up in Felixstowe and joined Ipswich Harriers as a boy.

Everyone is being encouraged to play their part in the county’s contribution, including those who could benefit from a potentially massive tourism boost.

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The Suffolk SportsAid Foundation, launched in 2007 to create a legacy for elite sport in the area, has already awarded more than 80 grants and lent its support to some of the region’s most promising young athletes, including powerlifter Zoe Newson, Ipswich-born marathon runner Helen Decker and triathlete Abbie Thorrington, all of whom will this evening join local dignitaries and businesses at Endeavour House.

At Moyses Hall, Bury St Edmunds, the Lap of Honour exhibition prepares to open its doors following a four-year project launched after London’s successful bid for the 2012 Games.

From tomorrow, the public can discover the stories of some remarkable people and their involvement in the Olympics Games.

But it’s not just the athletes who stand to benefit during the lead-up to the Games.

Holiday lettings agency Suffolk Secrets has more than 310 properties available to book for some of the expected half-a-million visiting tourists, from secluded countryside cottages to sea view apartments.

Alex Paul, general manager, said: “We are very excited about the tourism boost that the Olympics will bring to the county.

“We are working closely with local organisations and we have partnerships with other accommodation agencies in Europe to ensure that we are making the most of the ideal location Suffolk is in.”

Thousands of local businesses have already signed up for the free online CompeteFor service offering contract opportunities linked to the Games.

Suffolk’s 2012 project manager, Adam Baker, said: “We want to get the message out that there are still many opportunities for schools, businesses and individuals to be part of the Games. There are so many different ways to get involved.”

n In December, 8,000 Olympic Torchbearers will find out if they have been chosen to take part in the Torch Relay from Land’s End on May 19, 2012.

The Olympic Flame will travel more than 8,000 miles in 70 days, through East Anglia, before entering the Olympic Stadium on July 27.