POSTED: October 31st 2009

History marker from Bannister as London starts 1,000-day countdown

Sailors from the Weymouth and Portland National Academy, the sailing venue for London 2012, mark the countdown at Durdle Door in Dorset / LOCOG
Sailors from the Weymouth and Portland National Academy, the sailing venue for London 2012, mark the countdown at Durdle Door in Dorset / LOCOG

KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON: With 1,000 days to go to the start of London 2012, Lord Seb Coe illustrated the growing thrill of the project by telling of a meeting with Sir Roger Bannister, first man to run a sub-four-minute mile.

Coe had taken Bannister on a personal tour of the Olympic Park in East London and recounted how, on entering the part-constructed stadium, Bannister said: “You know, I feel just as excited now as I did when I walked out onto that windy Iffley Park track back in May, 1954.”

Coe told the story to illustrate the surge of pride and enthusiasm and commitment he sensed among not only those involved in British sport but a far wider public. More than 5m people are currently participating in London 2012 Games-related projects.

Coe added: “Reaching 1,000 days to go gives us an opportunity to celebrate.  Millions of people are already inspired by, benefiting from or delivering London 2012, from those who are taking part in sport participation projects inspired by the Games to the millions of National Lottery players who are helping to build the Olympic Park in east London.

“Over the next one thousand days our teams will put their heart and soul into ensuring the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2012 are a spectacular success.”

Key steps along the way include, next year, the launch of the volunteering programme and the unveiling of the mascot then, in 2011, the handing over of the venues to LOCOG by the Olymic Delivery Authority, all leading up to the Opening Ceremony on July 27, 2012.

Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell paid tribute to the importance of the work undertaken, out of limelight, by “the men and women outside the spotlight who are making the Games a reality - construction workers building the venues, the teachers delivering the ‘Get Set’ programme or the youth ambassadors.”

'On track and on budget'

Similar messages of confidence and recognition were issued by London Mayor Boris Johnson and John Armitt, the ODA chairman.

Armitt said: “With 1,000 days to go we are on track and within budget.  More than 7,000 people are working on the Olympic Park and Athletes Village and together the team is putting in place the foundations for the sustainable regeneration for the residents of east London.  People are also feeling the business benefits as the project is continuing to fill order books all over the UK.

“Construction is surging ahead not just on the new sports venues needed for 2012 but also on infrastructure and transport improvements. As we have said many times 75p in every pound we are spending is for long term legacy.”

LOCOG claims to have raised more than £550m in domestic sponsorship despite the worldwide recession. Celebratory events have included a celebrity ball and a fireworks and lights 'explosion' around the BT Tower in London.

Picture (above right): Roger Bannister making history in 1954 / lake images

Keywords · London 2012 · Olympic Games · Coe · Bannister · Armitt · Boris Johnson · 1 · 000 days

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