Senior councillors in Leeds will discuss how to capitalise on the success of the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games at a meeting next week.
At the meeting to be held at Civic Hall on Wednesday 5 September, the council’s executive board will debate how best to build on the success of the Games, which saw a wave of Olympic euphoria sweep the nation as Team GB enjoyed its best performance in over a century with 29 gold medals out of a total of 65 to finish third in the medal table.
Yorkshire athletes played a key role in the team collecting 12 medals in total including seven golds, with Leeds boxer Nicola Adams and triathlon star Alistair Brownlee becoming Olympic champions while cyclist Lizzie Armitstead won silver and Jonathan Brownlee claimed bronze in the triathlon behind his older brother.
Such was the success of Yorkshire as a county, had it been competing in its own right it would have been 12th in the final medal table. And this success is likely to be added to at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, which begin tomorrow (Wednesday 29 August) and for the first time ever are expected to be a complete sell-out.
A new strategy for sport in Leeds is currently being drawn up, which has seen all key stakeholders in the city consulted as to the wide-ranging role sport can play in the future of Leeds. The target has been set for Leeds to become the most active big city in the UK, as part of the broader challenge of being seen as the best city in the UK overall and the most child friendly city in the country.
Possible proposals to bring this about include the creation of an annual Olympic legacy fund of £100,000, while also exploring the possibility of working with the National Health Service to introduce increased affordable access to council sports and leisure centres, based on a scheme which has proven highly successful in Birmingham.
A focus of the new strategy would be to offer greater access to sport to those in more deprived areas of the city, and especially to young people, while links between school sports, local community clubs and sports run by volunteers would be strengthened.
Continued development of disability sport would be another area of focus, as well as stronger partnerships with adult social care programmes to help people remain active as they get older. Sport is recognised as playing a key role in helping people of all ages live healthy lifestyles, so closer working with the NHS would include school health checks to improve the health and wellbeing in particular of children and young people.
At the elite level of sport, the Leeds stars of London 2012 and other leading sportspeople in the city would be encouraged to be ambassadors for sport in Leeds. Discussions are also already underway with Sport England and national sport governing bodies for Leeds to possibly become a pilot city for new programmes to discover and develop the sports stars of the future.
Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said:
“The success of the London 2012 Olympic Games was something I’m sure none of us in Leeds and Great Britain will ever forget. The way the whole nation became gripped by it and the astonishing success of Team GB and our Leeds athletes showed just what a powerful force sport can be in bringing people together and inspiring everyone with such an immense surge of national pride.
Leeds City Council executive member for leisure Councillor Adam Ogilvie said:
“The slogan of the Olympics was ‘inspire a generation’, but from talking to people and seeing and hearing the public response it seems to have actually inspired every generation to want to be more active. That is incredible to see, and our challenge now is to help make that happen and do all we can to not only produce more Olympic champions but make Leeds the most active big city in the UK with the health benefits and opportunities that sport can offer being made available to everyone to enjoy.”
For details of Leeds’ involvement in the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, visit www.leedsgold.co.uk
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