Tuesday, 14 August 2012

You want a Legacy?

Right you lot – you’ve had your fun. The Olympics facilitated your gorging on evening and weekend TV, generated your boss’s good-natured tolerance of streaming events during work hours, and provided endless hours of gasps and cheers and tears and triumph. And now it’s your turn to contribute.

I hear a lot of people asking – nay demanding – to know what LOCOG intend to do about London 2012’s Legacy. These people say it with a capital ‘L’ to emphasise that this Legacy is Very Important to them. And LOCOG do their best to explain what they will do with their facilities and venues, how they will make sporting equipment and expertise available, and put their athletes in front of cameras heavily laden with medals and white-toothed grins. Meanwhile Mr Cameron does his best to insist that money will go in large volumes to the right places and that selling-off sports pitches isn’t a thing that’s happening at all. They are pleading with you to believe in their vision of Legacy and their capacity to deliver it.

I put it to you, however, that this Legacy is your responsibility as much as Coe’s and Cameron’s. You have been inspired by sport because it turned up in your living room for a fortnight. Now you have to go out and find it. If you want sport to be a part of your life or your children’s lives, then do something to make it so – Jess Ennis isn’t going to pop round with a set of hurdles and a javelin to teach you the heptathlon. Greg Rutherford isn’t going to suddenly leap into your garden with his coach’s whistle and a measuring tape. You are going to need to build on your own momentum. Here are a few suggestions as to how you can do that:

Go and see some sport
If you missed out on getting tickets for the Olympics, then why not go and see something else? Professional and high-level amateur sport happens every week in this country - your options really aren't limited to Wimbledon and endless football matches. I’m going to the EMC tests at Murrayfield in November, which were cheap. I’m planning to finally get to the Edinburgh International Cross-Country in January, which is free. If I was desperate to see Olympic mainstays like athletics/track & field, there are endless events up and down the country, including massive inter-county championships – here’s a list. Every Olympic sport will have public, usually quite cheap events that you can go to and have an awesome time at. What's stopping you?

Sign up for a race
I say this all the time – but if you want running motivation then put some money where your mouth is and sign up for a race. Incidentally, you could do Survival of the Fittest for Venture Trust, which would be cool. Or why not run an event that your local running/athletics club is putting on? If you usually run the big, famous races, why not try something unusual and local? Or if you’re short of pennies then go to parkrun – it’s FREE, there’s one near where you live and I’ve told you to do it already.

Get behind the Commonwealth Games
Glasgow 2014, baby. Here we come.

Join a club
This is hypocritical – I haven’t been in a sports club since University – but you may find that joining your local athletics, football, rugby, cycling, hockey, triathlon, shooting, swimming, canoeing or any-other club will give you much easier routes to participation and a new social circle to boot.

Take up something new
One of the most bizarre and wonderful parts of the Olympics for me is watching athletes compete at the highest level in events which I was only dimly aware of. This should be the moment that Britain recruits a generation of talented handballers, finds swathes of future BMX champs and hundreds of people passionate about that weird 8-man kayak thing. I hate to think of the number of people who didn’t shine at the mainstream sports which were offered at school, who became labelled (and therefore learnt to think of themselves) as ‘not sporty’.  I saw a great tweet by Jeremy Vine that said “Facts that have emerged from the Olympics: Britain’s not rubbish. Football is not the only sport. The Queen can do jokes.” – why not dedicate yourself to a minority event? You might be naturally gifted at it. And, by contrast and in a ‘just saying’ kind-of way, Britain is pretty rubbish at football.

Jog on
I think I may have said this somewhere before. But I mean this in its broadest possible sense - leave the car at home and walk into town, buy a bike and use it to commute, go for a swim, hike up a reasonably big hill. Do literally anything to keep moving and active and energised. 

You want a legacy? Make it happen. The time is now.

Happy running


2012 to date: miles run - 282, miles biked - 69.2, metres swum - 2350, races - 3

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