Going for gold
PUBLISHED: 12:39 13 July 2006 | UPDATED: 10:28 06 May 2010
A SQUAD of international athletes could stay and train in Stevenage during the Olympics in 2012. The borough council and members of the town s sports community are hoping to plough thousands of pounds into Stevenage s infrastructure and sports facilities
A SQUAD of international athletes could stay and train in Stevenage during the Olympics in 2012.
The borough council and members of the town's sports community are hoping to plough thousands of pounds into Stevenage's infrastructure and sports facilities in the run up to the Olympics.
In return it hopes the town will benefit from increased tourism, a boom in business and even see Stevenage sports stars of the future emerge as a result.
Last night (Wednesday) the council held a debate 'London 2012 - Can we go for gold?' to find out the public's views on how involved Stevenage should become.
Mark Richardson, former 400m runner and Olympic silver medallist, was due to address the meeting talking about what the 1996 Atlanta Olympics meant to him.
Speaking before the debate, leader of the council Sharon Taylor said: "I would love young people to get involved and get ready for the Olympics.
"We would like to provide them with skills, both sporting and non-sporting, ready for 2012. I hope we can do everything we can to encourage young people to reach their potential.
"I am sure there are young people in our town and beyond who can take part in the Olympics and do well. We have many talented young people.
"It is our job to support them and allow them to go as far as their ability takes them. We want to inspire them."
She said: "We have great links with London. We are only 20 minutes away. Having the games so nearby allows people to access the job and voluntary opportunities that it will present.
"We want people to feel involved. We want to take full advantage of the Olympics in London.
"We already have some great sports facilities in the town such as Ridlins. I hope we can attract a national team to train and stay in Stevenage. I think it is a very real possibility.
"There are also the benefits we could gain from tourism."
The council has set up a Stevenage Olympic steering group to take the plans forward and a fund has also been set up.
"The message we want to get across is Stevenage is a great venue for sport."
But it is not just about sport.
Cllr Taylor said she hopes those interested in arts and music could also get involved possibly with a cultural event alongside the games.
"Many people in the town enjoy sport so whatever their sport we urge them to get involved," she said.
"This is not just for the Olympics. We want this to be about fitness for the future. We want to create a legacy which will last longer than the Olympics."
Stevenage Borough Council will work with Herts County Council and sporting groups to take the plans forward.