By Mike Rowbottom in Coventry


November 13 - Paul Deighton (pictured), chief executive of London 2012, has said the desperation shown last month by cities bidding for the 2016 Games underlined the necessity of ensuring every possible benefit is drawn from the staging of Britain’s first Olympics since 1948.

Speaking at the Alan Higgs Centre in Coventry, where he was watching a programme of sporting and dance activities involving local schoolchildren as part of a tour of the West Midlands region, Deighton made it clear how great an impact it had had upon him to witness the efforts of such as the President and First Lady of the United States and the President of Brazil to secure the 2016 Olympics ahead of the voting process in Copenhagen.

"Being in Copenhagen last month for the 2016 Games decision I saw Presidents, Prime Ministers, Mayors and Royalty who would have done absolutely anything to get their hands on that prize," Deighton recalled. 


"And I was thinking: 'Wow!


"'We already have it.


"'So we’d better make sure we are exploiting it to its full potential.'


"As well as putting on a successful Olympics and Paralympics, we have to make sure we take the power of the Games to inspire change, and in particular to inspire young people to become involved in sport.

"That was the message Seb [Coe] articulated so superbly in Singapore when the 2012 Games were awarded – that was what got the extra votes to jump from Paris to us."

Deighton praised the efforts of the Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership for the 2012 Games in organising a week-long Festival of Sport involving year 7 pupils from Coventry schools in partnership with NHS Coventry, Coventry School Sports Partnership and Coventry Sports Foundation.

"Coventry and Warwickshire have been frankly one of the most dynamic areas anywhere in involving young people in the Games," he said, before taking an energetic part in one of the handball games taking place within the centre.

A total of 1,200 pupils from 11 schools were involved in the Festival of Sport, which operated as a pilot scheme for future activity.

Dave Moorcroft, the former world 5,000 metres record holder and chief executive of UK Athletics, who is now working as an ambassador of the Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership, said: "We want to bring the Olympics alive in this region, to enable young people to get the feeling of what the Games are all about."

The activities included a StreetCheer display which was part of a project run as part of the StreetGames Legacy Leaders programme, one of whose ambassadors, former Commonwealth 800m champion Diane Modahl, was also on hand to witness the youngsters’ efforts.

Among Deighton's duties on the day was the presentation of certificates to representatives of Fairfax School, Sutton Coldfield for their performance within the Get Set scheme.

Earlier in the day he had addressed more than 100 businesses at Malvern, Worcestershire on the imminent possibilities of getting a share of the £700 million procurement budget due to be spent by London 2012 on every kind of service and product that will be required for the duration of the Games, from to event programmes

He also looked in on a Personal Best programme aimed at training unemployed residents in the West Midlands in new skills which would equip them to apply for becoming one of the 70,000 Olympic volunteers in the run-up to the 2012 Games.


Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]