|The final countdown begins in London, with promises to 'inspire a generation' - just as long as it doesn't rain [GETTY]
Wednesday April 18th 2012 marked 100 days to the London Olympic Games.
The landmark occasion was celebrated in Kew Gardens, a beautiful garden sanctuary in the middle of south-west London.
The media gathered around an Olympic logo display consisting of 20,000 flowers that can be seen as planes fly in to Heathrow.
Before he got his hands dirty planting an oak in the gardens, Chairman of the London Games Organising Committee (LOCOG) Sebastian Coe revealed the motto of London 2012: “Inspire a generation”.
Coe proudly spoke of the progress LOCOG and their volunteers had made since the six months landmark, saying “We have made great strides forward. The city and nation are in great shape to welcome the world in 100 days.”
Alongside Coe sat Chief Executive of LOCOG Paul Deighton, Olympics minister Hugh Robertson and Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport Secretary Jeremy Hunt. All four praised the work done to reach the 100-day mark and reiterated that the legacy of the Games was just as important as the main event.
According to the men in charge, inspiring a sporting generation was what the London Games had always stood for.
Fittingly the 100-day mark saw the heavens open. April showers and plummeting temperatures caused Coe to don a brown Mackintosh only a man of his eminence could carry off.
With the weather one of the things Londoners most like to complain about, it was a blessing for the media gathered in a Kew Gardens conservatory. The grumbling did not stop at the weather though.
While the chatter at the press conference revolved around the event, the athletes and legacy, the psyche of the British set the tone.
"At present, a common reaction to the biggest sporting event on the planet arriving on our doorstep is a grumbling indifference. The British are not a nation to get overexcited before the event. Rather, we'd like to grumble instead. "
At present, a common reaction to the biggest sporting event on the planet arriving on our doorstep is a grumbling indifference. The British are not a nation to get overexcited before the event. Rather, we’d like to grumble instead.
The obvious place to start avec grumble is to question why a struggling economy has spent billions on a sporting event only 10 per cent of the UK population will see. The demand for tickets has greatly outweighed availability leaving many British people disappointed and manically tapping refresh on their iPads.
If this isn’t enough to frustrate the host nation, the transport and safety worries of an event of this magnitude brings to these shores is.
The grumbles do not stop there though.
Another area of contention is the legacy promises that supported the London bid. In 2005, LOCOG identified long-term goals that revolved around the redevelopment of east London and the desire to make the people of Great Britain more active and healthy. However, LOCOG and Sport England have already failed to meet their target of getting one million more people into sport by 2012.
If you are British, you could make yourself sick with worry about the London Games.
However, all things considered, the British people should feel they are in safe hands with Sebastian Coe and co. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has not been able to fault LOCOG’s preparations for the Games and London has been one step ahead at every milestone.
Nine million people are set to welcome the Olympic torch as it tours the UK and two million children are in Olympic education programmes. The effect of the Olympics is reverberating around the nation even if the people of London are yet to feel the excitement.
Questions of whether the event is worth its weight in gold or LOCOG can deliver their legacy promises will not be found out until after the main event. The feel-good factor the Games bring, along with the tourists, has had a positive effect on host cities in the past and there’s no reason it will not boost the economy and spirit of Londoners. This is something that could be deemed priceless.
We shouldn’t complain about transport before we suffocate in a crammed train on the way to work or stress about safety. London will have a stronger transport network in place after the Games and the increase in money being spent to counter terrorism threats could make us a little bit safer in the future.
Grumbling is fun, oh yes it is, but with the clock ticking now is the time to enjoy the build-up to the greatest sporting show on earth.
Unless it rains that is.
Joanna Tilley is a freelance journalist working with Al Jazeera on the Sport website. She has worked at Sky News, Sky Sports News and LBC Radio.
Follow her on Twitter (@joannatilley) or her website, http://www.mythoughtonsport.blogspot.com
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