Wednesday, 8 August 2012


22 Gold medals and still 4 days of competition to go, the Team GB performance has been electrifying. Personal favourites for me have been Sir Chris Hoy, Andy Murray and  Mo Farrah but the connectivity of the team and the dedicated focus of our athletes has been revelatory. But the jaw-droppingly, dazzling moments were provided by the American swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, not just for his gold-medal haul but for his grace and sheer class when he took silver behind Ryan Lochte in the 200m. Phelps and so many other gold medallists have reminded us what it takes to be an elite athlete, not just in terms of talent and dedication but also in the mental strength to deliver when it really matters. I knew I'd enjoy all this sport on TV. I said so on the morning of the Opening Ceremony when I was asked on BBC Radio Stoke's Friday review of the current news. I also said that the £9billion bill makes me twitchy at a time when austerity and cutbacks have taken their toll on grass-roots sport, and at a time when the economic recovery isn't expected anytime soon. I still feel that way. The Olympic party has been sensational but the hangover could be brutal. I hope the legacy of sporting success is a potent one and I hope many youngsters want to emulate their Olympic heroes, but  the regenerative impact of the games on cities outside London  is unproven and there is still so much to be done on infrastructure and skills in other segments of our economy.Sport may be able to lead the way on regeneration, but it may be just the sunniest bit of an otherwise deary summer. Certainly todays forecast by the Bank of England of zero economic growth in 2012 contrasted with the ebullience of the Olympics news, and jarred with the "can-do" mentality that we have found so attractive in Team GB.    

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