Olympic project takes a big step in the morning
Posted on 21 February 2011 | 11:02pm
Just back from seeing West Ham sneak a 5-1 win over Burnley, allowing us to concentrate on the League while they concentrate on relegation.
Depending on who goes up and who goes down, it could be the last time I visit Upton Park before West Ham move to the Olympic Stadium. Burnley fans were excellent tonight, though the songs about running tracks didn’t really take off.
It is however another part of the Olympic infrastructure I want to draw to your attention at this late hour. Because in the morning, with more than 500 days to go before the Games open, Sir Chris Hoy, Vicky Pendleton and the cream of British Cycling will be testing the new velodrome. It is no ordinary venue but a stunning piece of architectural design, as anyone driving along the A12 can see for themselves.
When we won the Games there was huge scepticism about whether the UK could deliver. The shadow of Wembley loomed large. The media were confidently anticipating national embarrassment after an outbreak of ‘Can’t do Britain’. The opposite has happened. With the minimum of fuss and drama the Olympic Park has taken shape. And let’s remember we are not talking about a single venue but a £7bn construction project of stunning complexity and urban transformation of huge ambition.
As I have said before 2012 is demonstrating so much of what is great about this country – design, engineering know how and of course a passion for sport. And as David Cameron struggles to give definition to his Big Society, the rush to volunteer at the Games is giving him a few clues.
The atmosphere at the cycling World Cup in Manchester was extraordinary at the weekend. Just imagine the scenes in 2012 with the world’s greatest athletes competing in London for Olympic and Paralympic Gold.
The Park construction has been brilliantly managed by the Olympic Delivery Authority. Attention is now rightly turning to ticketing, plans for the torch relay and the Games themselves as the project enters the home straight. The builders are passing the baton over but they have done us proud. So far so very good.