Dreams Come True
By Jenny Sims (see link to Jenny’s blog page below)
I have held two Paralympic medals. A gold for discus and a bronze for shot put.
Unfortunately they were only in my hands for a few seconds – enough to feel the weight and admire the shine. Then their rightful owner, the amazing 21-year-old thrower Aled Sion-Davies, wanted them back before he went to lunch.
But I retain the memory as a ‘personal best’ moment during a unique conference, London 2012: Benefits and Legacy to Wales, organised by the NUJ’s Cardiff & SE Wales branch with Cardiff Metropolitan University’s School of Sport.
The Dean, Dave Cobner, did a great job persuading a range of elite athletes, sports personalities, and others involved with London 2012 – many with links to the Met either through use of its training facilities, academic courses or both – to take part.
They included: Nathan Stephens (javelin), Stef Collins (Team GB women’s basketball captain), Scott Simpson (athletics coach/pole vault), Lucy Power (basketball team manager), and Yvonne Saker (games maker volunteer).
Each had an amazing and inspiring to tell of how their dreams came true. And each can claim some credit for the renewed interest in and uptake of sport by children and adults since the staging of the 2012 games.
But Prof. Laura McAllister, Chair of Sport Wales, and former Welsh women’s football international, warned that despite its successful haul of 22 medals, Wales could not afford to rest on its laurels if the same success was to be achieved in Brazil in 2016.
She suggested journalists could play a part in nurturing and protecting the Olympics’ legacy by ‘challenging’ politicians to keep their pledges about funding sports training and development opportunities. Not just for elite athletes, but among children in both primary and secondary schools if the Olympics legacy was not to be wasted.
Her comments were backed by one of Wales’ most famous sporting heroes, long jump gold medallist, Lynn Davies, CBE, President of UK Athletics Members Council.
As a small nation, Wales had punched above its weight in London 2012, and contributed significantly to the organisation of the games, not least by its provision of many training venues said Davies, chief ‘meeter & greeter’ ambassador throughout the games.
And Sport Cardiff’s manager Steve Morris and Coaching & Development Officer Gareth Power, both involved in helping LOCOG, the London organising committee prepare for the games, believe that experience will prove invaluable in strengthening Welsh bids to host future international sporting events in Wales.
Conference facilitator, Brent Pope, Cardiff Devils director and 2012 Olympics & Paralympics commentator for the Olympic Broadcasting Service (OBS) to 122 countries said it had been ‘a fantastic experience’, one he couldn’t turn down.
Pope said his job at the Olympics had been to ‘educate, inform and entertain’ – a role he also fulfilled at the conference.
Staged as part of the NUJ’s recruitment and retention drive and to enable new networking opportunities for members and students the event was, in one word, inspiring!
Jenny Sims is a freelance journalist, editor and media consultant
She is also freelance officer of the NUJ’s Cardiff & South East Wales branch and the Wales member (job share) of the NUJ’s National Executive Committee