Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Golden Olympians Are Backing Sport for All

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Golden Olympians Are Backing Sport for All

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Rushworth

When Jonathan Edwards joins forces with Lord Coe on the London 2012 campaign trail, sceptics are forced to sit up and take notice. Chief Sports Writer Simon Rushworth spoke exclusively to the former Olympic champions.

Persuasive, passionate and to the point. Those at the helm of the London 2012 Olympic bid could hardly have chosen two more appealing ambassadors than the charming Jonathan Edwards and the equally approachable Lord Coe in their attempt to raise regional support for a capital gain.

Joining forces at Gateshead's International Stadium yesterday, the celebrated pair posed for publicity shots, shook hands when necessary and managed more smiles than could reasonably be expected in the face of a biting wind.

However, where the former Olympic champions would really be judged was in the arena of convincing argument: both left those present in little doubt that the North-East has a duty to support a country's dream to be taken seriously on the cluttered world stage.

Lord Coe had talked candidly about the "benefits" which London 2012 would bring to the regions, including the chance to stage Olympic football, host international training camps and inspire future winners.

But if the big-hitting bid team are adamant that they can bring the Olympics to a nation, then are they equally well positioned to bring a nation to the Olympics? "In the pre-bid document that is one issue which must be addressed," confirmed Lord Coe, responding to the concern that the North-East's youth of 2012 will be financially and geographically marginalised by a London-based event.

"We were discussing as a group just the other day - and I think Jonathan would agree with me here - that we do have to think about nationwide accessibility.

"We do want to ensure the participation of leading British athletes and all the associated pluses which follow on from that. But you do want as many people as possible getting into stadiums and being part of the Olympic experience."

Nicely put by the former politician. But will the people of the North-East

really be in a position to join the 2012 party? …

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