‘Amazing’ Coleraine a big part of the Olympic family

Pacemaker Press Belfast 01-08-2012; COLERAINE Borough Council's Mayor, Councillor Sam Cole met with Prime Minister David Cameron on his visit to Northern Ireland. Mr Cameron's engagements in N.Ireland are part of a UK-wide tour to promote the Olympic Games.'He met rowers and officials at Bann Rowing Club in Coleraine, ahead of races featuring Alan Campbell and brothers Richard and Peter Chambers followed by a civic reception in Coleraine Town Hall hosted by Mayor Cole. 'Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 01-08-2012; COLERAINE Borough Council's Mayor, Councillor Sam Cole met with Prime Minister David Cameron on his visit to Northern Ireland. Mr Cameron's engagements in N.Ireland are part of a UK-wide tour to promote the Olympic Games.'He met rowers and officials at Bann Rowing Club in Coleraine, ahead of races featuring Alan Campbell and brothers Richard and Peter Chambers followed by a civic reception in Coleraine Town Hall hosted by Mayor Cole. 'Picture By: Arthur Allison.

IT’S a pleasure to be here in Coleraine in Northern Ireland.

It’s not just a pleasure because of course my bedroom in No10 Downing Street is outside the Beach Volleyball court so I’m trying to get asleep with all that noise.

It’s a huge pleasure to be here, above all the remind people that the Olympic Games is something not for just London not just for England but something for the whole of the United Kingdom.

And it really brings it home to me, coming here to Coleraine and seeing the amazing contribution the town has made to the GB team.

Our fingers are crossed, everything is crossed. We wish Alan and the Chambers brothers every good luck as they prepare for the big events.

But I think it is a moment actually just to pause and reflect of these OIympic Games because people have said a lot of different things about them in advance that haven’t turned out to be the case.

People have said ‘well I’m not sure Britain will really be able to get the venues together and get the events together’ and in fact it’s been brilliantly organised, with fantastic venues built on time, built under budget.

And I think we can all see in our television screens or those who are lucky enough to go these events a really professionally, well put on set of Games.

Some people wondered whether the Olympic Games would bring the country together or whether it would just be about our capital city.

I think the Games really have brought our country together. The Torch Relay was a fantastic success and it’s good to see so many torch relay bearers here today, let’s give them a round of applause.

In Northern Ireland, five days of the Torch Relay, 250,000 people on the street coming to see the Torch and also, I think, taking the Torch to the Republic of Ireland was also a very good move which won huge support across the border and showed that everyone played their part in the spirit of Olympic co-operation.

Some people said that of course all the benefits though would go only to the capital city. I don’t think that’s the case either.

We’ve had more than 40 Northern Irish companies winning over 45 million pounds of orders.

The press centre, the Olympic Centre, was fitted out by a Northern Irish company. I’m told that the press - I don’t always want to make the press that comfortable - but apparently they’re having a lovely time.

But I think on every level - on the physical infrastructure, the preparation for the Games, on bringing the country together, I think it’s been a huge success.

But, of course, the real success of the Olympic Games won’t be in the few incredible weeks of sport.

The real success of the Olympic Games is about the legacy. And the legacy isn’t just buildings that will be constructed that will have uses for the future nor is it just about the many businesses and countries that are coming to the United Kingdom this fortnight that are going to do deals here and invest here and provide jobs here, important though that is.

I think the real legacy of the Olympic Games is the message that it sends to young people across the United Kingdom about sport, about competition, about taking part, about team spirit, about being everything you can be.

And the most inspiring sight I’ve seen in these Olympics are young people and volunteers getting really excited about what is happening.

And I don’t know whether it will be which sport will benefit the most, but I would make this prediction.

At the end of these Olympic Games you will have more people going down to Coleraine Rowing Club, wanting to row, you will have more people signing up for sport that they haven’t played in this country, like handball.

You’ll have more people who’ll want to take part in sports like football - and wasn’t it incredible last night to see GB Women’s team beat Brazil at football. And 80,000 people watched that at Wembley.

So the real inspiration of these Games, the real legacy of these Games and the brilliance of these Games will be inspiring future generations, to take part in sport, to take part in competition, to be all they can be.

And the other real inspiration I think of these Games, is the amount of people who volunteer.

When you are lucky enough to go the Games you see this army of 80,000 people from right across our country, from every walk of life, all who have volunteered to help people find their way around the Games or help them out of the Games, all doing it for free.

It’s a great statement about our country.

And that’s the last thing, the last thought I want to leave you with. I think these Games are showing what Great Britain, what the United Kingdom is capable of, even at, frankly, in difficult times

I have always thought that our country as a small country that does big things. We have done that throughout our history and Northern Ireland has always played a massive part in that.

But these Olympic Games are proving, once again, that the United Kingdom is a country that can deliver, that can get things done, that can put on an incredible show, that can make people feel proud to be British, proud to take part and above all provide this incredible inspiration for future generations.

That’s what the Games are about - but it’s a United Kingdom event and that’s why it’s so great to be here in Northern Ireland, in Coleraine, one of the places where the talent of our Olympic team has been fostered and of course one of the places where the talent of our current team has been fostered and we wish you every success.

One final thing, it wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the great role that Kate [Kirk] played in lighting that magnificent Torch.

When I was shown the plans by Danny Boyle, almost two years ago, there were two parts of it that completely inspired me.

The first, of course, was the idea of James Bond and the Queen jumping out of the helicopter together. I thought that was a magnificent idea and I had no hesitation to say to Her Majesty that this was something that she absolutely ought to consider doing.

And I put it to her very simply: I said that after all James Bond and the Queen are two of the coolest things about the United Kingdom. Bring them together and you can take on the world.

But the second thing that really inspired me was the idea that all those petals, coming together, each one delivered by a separate Olympic team, coming together in that torch.

Because not only was it extremely beautiful and moving, it was also a brilliant feat of engineering.

And I think the idea of not having Sir Steven Redgrave or Roger Bannister or David Beckham or any of the other rumours but instead having some young talented athletes, United Kingdom’s future, lighting that flame was an inspired choice.

It was a wonderful, magical moment for our country and it’s great to be a part of it.

Thank you very much indeed and thank you for your welcome.