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Newham welcomes the world

PUBLISHED: 08:00 25 July 2012

Aerial view of the Olympic Stadium

Aerial view of the Olympic Stadium

PA Wire/Press Association Images

The waiting is almost over: Two days to the Olympics

After all the years of hoping and waiting, the Olympic Games are almost here. Newham officially welcomes the world in just two days.

It’s seems like nothing else has mattered in the last seven years and many doubters thought it would never happen.

But the 2012 Games are finally upon us and the eyes of the world are on Stratford, Newham and London.

London has been unlike any other Olympic host city. This is the first time in history where such a city has tried to use the Olympics to completely transform a deprived area.

As Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales said: “The reason we won the bid back in 2005 was to inspire people through sports and physical activity, but more importantly, to drive the regeneration of our part of east London.

“Unlike other host cities – Beijing, Barcelona and Atlanta – who succeeded in achieving different ambitions, whether it’s putting on a good event, doubling tourism or becoming an international conference destination – we have been focused on legacy right from the start.

“In Newham this has meant inspiring people, changing lives through jobs and opportunities, and overcoming the injustice of embedded poverty that we have put up with for more than 100 years.”

Many people have forgotten that the Newham Recorder first brought you the news that our borough would stage the Games back in the 1980s.

It was the dream of then Sports Minister and West Ham MP Tony Banks, later made a Lord.

It was he who predicted that we would bid and win the right to stage the Games in this paper all those years ago. A tragedy that he would never lived to see it.

The Olympics has been a catalyst for regeneration and inward investment and we are making the most of this opportunity. We have capitalised on the attention the Games have drawn to this part of London by encouraging people to invest in, and create, jobs.

But it’s more than that. The Games are about inspiring our residents, especially the young. Children from every school are getting to go to the Olympics. And we have used the Games to further unite our community.

Lord Sebastian Coe is easily able to conjure up memories of the day in Singapore when London was announced as the host of the 2012 summer Games.

“We sat there, most of us disbelieving that we’d heard the president say London. It was an extraordinary moment.”

Suddenly we realised what a big impact it had had, not just in London, but around the UK, actually right around the world.”

The Princess Royal and David Beckham were among those in Singapore, but so were young people from Newham, and it is these youngsters who stay most in Lord Coe’s memory.

He said: “I keep in touch with all of them. It has been great, the most important memory in Singapore, the one I look back fondly on, is really about working alongside the young people.”

Britishness will run through the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics, showcasing the best the country has to offer the world.

The Olympic Torch received a tremendous welcome at the weekend. Over 260,000 people watched the Torch and the Mayor’s Newham Town Show, a massive turnout of Newham’s population.

We have a special four-page wrap around today’s paper and more pages inside on the two events.

There were major traffic problems on Monday morning on the A13 Newham Way. Later in the day, following Bradley Wiggins historic Tour de France victory, Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced a bid to host the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Stratford in 2016.

Sir Chris Hoy was then revealed as the person who will carry the Team GB flag for Friday’s ceremony.

On Monday night, there were major Tube delays for commuters in our area. Later on 60,000 attended the Olympic stadium for the opening ceremony rehearsal. Track problems meant delays before and after. We know the ceremony content, but won’t ruin the surprise. But it will be just magical.

Now, as someone famous once said, let the Games Begin…


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