Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Power of the Podium by Brian Davies

With Wales effectively kicking off the London 2012 Olympics today, with the women’s football taking place at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, Sport Wales is aiming to capture the excitement to create a lasting legacy for Welsh sport. Brian Davies, Sport Wales High Performance Manager tells us how the power of the podium could inspire a generation of Welsh youngsters.

Geraint Thomas, Nicole Cooke and Tom James:
Our defending Olympic champions
Those that remember seven years ago when the bid announcement was made by Jacques Rogge I don’t suppose that many then believed that Cardiff would have anything to do with it. So for the capital city of Wales to actually play a part, and a real prominent part kicking off the Olympics really prior to the opening ceremony, I think most people would have been really pleased with that result seven years ago.

If you cast your mind back to 1999, when Wales hosted the Rugby World cup, we wouldn’t be here now without that event. We wouldn’t have had the Millennium Stadium built; we wouldn’t have had the St David’s 2 development; or enough hotels to host the teams that play at the Millennium Stadium. So there’s a legacy from a sporting event just there.

That really is what London’s bid was based upon. That’s what Seb Coe promised and I think in Wales there’s been a real effort to engage with the youth through the Young Ambassador’s scheme (the school’s scheme linked to 2012), and the torch relay, that you couldn’t help be enthused and motivated and uplifted by.

We’ve got schemes, like 5x60, where we’re trying to engage with children who aren’t in mainstream sport putting on activities like surfing, golf or dance or whatever might push their buttons. Legacy is about people. You can put a scheme in place but unless people really want to achieve something it won’t happen. When I worked in development it was about finding those people who can deliver for you and then believing in them and giving them what they wanted, not just coming up with a scheme. The schemes we do have are designed to help those kind of enthusiastic people.

Having Dai Greene, or Helen Jenkins, or Jade Jones from Flint, standing on the podium at the Olympics has the power to generate and inspire just like the strapline says; a generation of young people. I’m sure anyone who’s got an interest in sport was inspired by someone at the top and this is a real opportunity for us. We’ve got 30 Welsh people taking part in the biggest sporting event in the world, which is a fantastic number and a fantastic opportunity.

If you read our strategy document it says that we’re hoping to win 6-10 medals across the next two Olympics. Welsh athletes did amazingly well in Beijing with five medals, three of those gold. If we can equal Beijing’s haul I think that’s a fantastic achievement and we’re half way to the target that was set.

Guy’s like Dai are hugely level headed, they know their abilities. When you saw him run the world title race he beat his latest challenger into second place and what you had there was Dai knowing his ability. He’s now had a good build up and I’m sure he’s confident of his own ability. Geraint (Thomas) is certainly confident; he’s with one of the best teams in the world with British Cycling.

Along with Tom James he's the defending champion. Jade Jones, she’s the junior world champion, Olympic youth champion and world silver medallist. Helen Jenkins, she’s the double world champion! These guys are sure of their own ability. Anything can happen on the day but whatever happens to them they will have done fantastically well.

Keep track of all our Welsh athletes at London 2012 and follow @sport_wales on Twitter for all the latest news. Remember to use the #2012cymruwales hash tag!