Suffolk may have hidden gems for 2012

Suffolk's Project Manager for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics believes the county could still be hiding potential participants for the games.

By Stuart Watson

Suffolk's Project Manager for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics believes the county could still be hiding potential participants for the games.

Adam Baker started in the new role in September this year, having previously led Ipswich Borough Council's successful Team Ipswich sports brand.

Baker's role is extensive, dealing with areas such as volunteering, tourism and business, however from a sporting perspective he is hopeful that Suffolk can produce a number of athletes for the games. He said: “It will not even necessarily be about producing medallists, but just having people from Suffolk competing in 2012.

“Seeing people from our region compete will be a big inspiration and will hopefully lead to more people taking up sport after the games.

“Most of our potential competitors will be in the system already, but there are always a few surprises, specifically in sports like gymnastics and swimming where you can be an elite performer at a young age.”

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As part of Suffolk's vision for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Suffolk Strategic Partnership has split its approach into three stages.

Firstly, between now and 2009, the partnership will 'start' to plan, design and establish funding; secondly, between 2009 and 2012 they plan to 'succeed' in their implementation of such plans, while finally, after the games, they plan to 'sustain' the good work that has been done.

Focusing on the latter stage, Baker said: “A big part of these games is very much the legacy they leave. We've got the greatest show on earth coming to this town and we've got to maximise the benefits Suffolk can take from this opportunity.

“Sport is right at the front of everything in terms of legacies the games can leave. Hopefully they will get more people active from all different ages.

“We are in the middle of an obesity epidemic where 50% of the population do no physical activity whatsoever.

“In Suffolk we are below the national average of activity levels and we need to raise that. The legacy may well end up being that we can just halt this growing obesity crisis first before we can begin to reverse the trend.”

The Cultural Olympiad will officially pass over to London on August 24 next year after the Beijing Olympic Games.

Once this happens, Baker is hoping to achieve a number of things for Suffolk that increase its involvement in the games, one of which will be to have the Olympic torch run through the county.

Baker said: “Other things being planned include an Olympic showcase, where Suffolk people involved in past Olympics can share their memories.”

The Suffolk Sports Aid Foundation will be launched on December 20 - National 2012 Day - in order to raise money for the county's potential participants at the 2012 games.

A list of potential training venues for the 2012 Games will be also confirmed in January next year, on which is likely to be a number of Suffolk facilities after 26 places from the county put their names forwards.

This brochure will then be sent around every international committee and each nation will be able to duly apply for which venues they wish to train at during the games.

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