Legacy. It’s the word of the moment, distorted from all angles of the political spectrum to suit particular arguments and ends. The Olympics has been over for long enough for people to start applying a critical eye rather than the rose-tinted gloss we were swept up in while it was on. What is the legacy, and was it worth the hundreds of millions of pounds spent on hosting the overblown sports day?
Overall, I’m not the best person to ask. Those more closely involved know the details of the post-Games projects. But I do want to share a little story.
On Saturday morning I took a walk up to Graves Park in Sheffield. It’s the biggest park in town, and offers rather excellent views of the skyline andmoorland. But it’s also the sort of place where frazzled parents take their kids for a few hours of relatively stress-free easy life. They can coo at the cows and rabbits in the animal farm, or take to the big playground. But most of them charge around on the grass, as children tend to do.
On Saturday, the kids were playing as normal. But there was something different. They were charging around, but with a purpose. They were trying to race each other. And when they finished, they broke into a pose – either Usain Bolt’s firing an arrow at the sky thing or Mo Farah’s YMCA-esque Mobot.
This was three weeks after the Olympics had ended, so they weren’t just copying whatever they’d seen on TV over the last couple of days. They genuinely wanted to be Usain Bolt or Mo Farah.
Kids have always wanted to be famous people, of course. But given the choice of Peter Andre and a man from a Jamaican village who has worked incredibly hard to be the absolute best at what he does, I know who I’d rather they aspired to be.
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Similarly, given a choice between someone on Big Brother and a Somali refugee with an astonishing work ethic and willingness to learn, then Mo wins every time as a role model.
And if that happens to be the Olympic legacy – children wanting to emulate Jessica Ennis rather than Jordan, be a world champion rather than a WAG – then I’m all for it.