The only way is Stratford
My journey to work, if I am feeling up to it, is a taxing 12-mile bike ride from my home on the border of Essex and East London to our London office near Liverpool Street.
The halfway mark skirts around the highlight of my ride, the northern end of the Olympic Park at Stratford. The Olympic Park and its juxtaposition with residential streets built some 100 years plus ago never ceases to capture my imagination. One moment I am in a shabby Victorian terraced street, and then I’m amongst an explosion of modern building work. The difference between the two streets never fails to take my breath away.
With the Games of the XXX Olympiad less than 100 days away today, I’m constantly amazed at how much the London 2012 Organising Committee has transformed this once forgotten part of town. The area now populated by Westfield shopping center and Olympic Park was a rail graveyard, ugly and industrial a little more than five years ago.
London will truly be in the global spotlight when the Summer Games begin. It is a momentous occasion that will undoubtedly be seen as landmark in British history and leave a lasting stamp on Brand Britain. As we get set to welcome our thousands of diverse visitors from across the globe, I hope that we will all embrace the Olympic spirit and leave a lasting positive impression.
And whatever you think of compulsory purchase orders of property, political posturing, the huge cost of hosting and staging the games—not to mention the ticket allocation controversy—the Olympics have already been a power of good for many people. It has helped local business and will continue to draw commerce, sport and tourism long after the last gold medals are awarded. This will be the real legacy of the Olympics, and we should feel immensely positive and proud about that.
Of course, there will be chaos. There always is at such events. But we’ll deal with it because that’s what we do as Londoners—we have a long history of “keeping calm and carrying on.” To the cynics I say that hosting such a major sporting event is huge honour as well as a responsibility—so let the Games begin! And does anyone have an extra ticket?
I’ll be doing my part during the Olympics by staying off the trains and tubes and staying on my bike. Easing the congestion and my streamlining my waistline. And I’m sure that long after the Olympic Games are over, I will always stop along my cycling commute to admire the legacy of this once in a lifetime event.