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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.

  • Kayshenfield

    You’re on sky sports news clapping at the goal with your claret hat on. Not many Burnley fans there tonight?

  • Colin Hinde

    You looked good on the telly last night – well, you looked passionate, and well done Burnley fans for singing when you were losing so badly!

  • Tess Kingstone

    I am getting more and more excited by 2012 as the time nears. It has been remarkable how smoothly things have gone – we would certainly have known about it had it not gone well. Our papers would have made sure of that. As you say so far so good

  • Quinney

    As this is a British Olympic games then why couldn’t we use the Manchester velodrome? As usual everything has to be London centric, virtually nothing is held north of Watford Gap. The equestrian events at the Bejing games were held in Hong Kong which is over 1500km from there, some events at the Los Angeles games were held over 500km from LA . The annoying thing is that the cockney games wouldn’t be there at all without the success of the Manchester Commonwealth games in 2002 which proved after the disastrous world cup bid and the Pickets Lock fiasco that the UK could put on a major international event. Our thanks for this is that a couple of football matches might be played “up north”. For me these games can drown in jellied eels and pie and mash.

  • Im sorry but the Games are of no priority to this country. They should of been axed all the asssets sold off. The fact is they will go ahead I am a fan of sport but politicians should not tell us the importance of cuts then keep a trivial sporting games.

    My idea for a legacy would involve turning the athletes village into a huge set of bedsits for the MP,s so instead of claiming expenses associated with 2nd homes. All Utilities will be covered by the landlord, The State.

    Food and drink come out of your wages, like everyone else.

    Anyway I digress shame Olympics go ahead, Shame we cannot have a Libya, Egypt or Tunisia situation over here.

    All the best Mr Campbell.

    Good Luck to you in the future.

    Andrew Heavey.

  • Robert

    Sorry to go off topic but, being fiercly tribal, I’m going to be upset by the Tory media taking the piss out of TB’s relationship with Gadaffi and his efforts helping to normalise relations with Libya.

    What the anti-Labour anti-TB bods will be ignoring is that as a beneficial product of the normalisation a whole raft of Libyan politicians and others will a) have had sensible diplomatic relations with the outside world and b) will consequently have seen the benefits of having (in some sense) a normal government with normal political and diplomatic relationships.

    Hence we see so many diplomats and members of the military jumping ship.

    Hence some hope for the country despite the unacceptable level of bloodshed incurred by Gadaffi in recent days.

    Hope thanks in large part to TB’s interventions years ago.

  • Chris lancashire

    Surely if so many are volunteering for the Games it proves the big society is alive and well?

  • Richard

    The West welcomed Libya back into the fold in return for their renouncing terrorism. Pragmatically that was a far cheaper alternative to letting them continue developing weopons systems, and, like Iran, still have the problem to deal with.
    TB was no doubt retching when he had to meet the odious Gadaffi, but to give credit where it is due, did not speak of regime change, or try and enforce it!

  • Steve Brundish

    It says something about the psyche of some of the UK’s commentators that any event hosted by this country has to be ridiculed. Straight away the event is labelled a white elephant which will be incompetently run and wastes billions. Apply for the games are obviously a gamble and one can understand why leaders would rather not bother. But we should have some belief and not miss out on the opportunity to show case our country to business, tourists and regenerate an inner-city while leaving a legacy of sporting facilities that a country of our size should have but never normally would have. The Dome and Wembley projects that were seen as typically British failures but now are global success stories. The Olympics will be great for the UK and people will soon forget the negativity that is until we have the temerity to try and hold another inernational event.

  • Dave Simons

    It proves nothing of the sort. People have been volunteering for things less glamorous than the Games for decades, long before David Cameron was born. People do voluntary work for different reasons: some younger volunteers might correctly see it as clocking up CV points en route to a paid job; some people might see it as part of a stairway to heaven; others might do it because it needs doing and if they don’t do it for nowt it won’t get done; etc. One obvious problem about voluntary work is its unreliability. As a matter of fact I do a bit of voluntary work even though I’m in full-time employment, as do lots of people, but if I don’t feel like it I don’t do it. The local council assists me in doing voluntary work, but for how much longer, given the cuts?The Big Society owes nothing to David Cameron – he just threatens its existence.

  • Chris lancashire

    Dave, did you used to work in Mr Campbell’s rapid rebuttal department?

  • Nick

    It’s not a British olumpics, but a London olympics. The games are given to cities, not countries. So all the events, other than sailing and some football, have to be in/around the host city. Even northerners can understand that, surely.

  • Dave Simons

    That’s a compliment, mate!

  • Quinney

    Nick,considering UK taxpayers and UK lottery players are funding this Olympics I think a few events outside London would not go amiss. Not long ago Tessa Jowell said the Olympics had to find savings, the obvious one was to use the Manchester velodrome which this week held the world championships. The answer as usual was no. Why can’t we have events such as archery, equestrianism, canoeing, kayaking, rowing, shooting, etc etc held in Scotland, Wales, N. Ireland and England?
    What Mancunians, never mind northeners understand is there is a bias in this country that constantly favours the south east.Manchester was robbed of the English national football stadium, so now we have a £787m dump called Wembley in the middle of an industrial estate in London with no major transport links.
    All in the name of having in in London.
    Cheers, Quinney,
    Republic of Mancunia (tory free zone).

  • Ehtch

    The Poles are good workers, they built Parc-y-Scarlets in record time, and we told them to go up London and not leave us down, build that bellodrome and everything they want.

    Pole builders are brilliant, on the mass civil engineering side.

    Parc-y-Scarlets video,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shE8Ih6cjiQ

  • Chris lancashire

    Dave
    Q.E.D.

  • Alf

    Good posting, totally agree

  • Dave Simons

    Chris,
    Is that ‘Quip Endlessly, Dave’, ‘Quadbike Erratically Driven’, ‘Quite Easily Done’ or ‘Quod Erat Demonstrandum’?

  • Ehtch

    by the way Alastair, the cause is on in South Wales, to push those QPR West Lahndarne poofters out of auto spots to the premiership/premier league(!). Watch and shoot.

    Next year Alastair, for Burnley…..