Friday, 31 August 2012

Sporting Legacy

History is all about living off the legacy that someone has left behind them, whether it is a political one, a cultural one, or a technological one. One of the reasons London won the 2012 Olympic Games was because of its determination to leave a sporting legacy. The motto of the games is “Inspire a Generation”. What it really needs to do is inspire ALL generations.

The main emphasis on this legacy has been to encourage more people to take up new sports. Of course, not everyone is interested in sport. A friend of mine didn’t see any of the Olympics, and some readers of this blog may have been put off this year by my Olympic Countdown series popping up every week. I don’t have any real interest in sport myself. I’m more interested in the athletes and their achievements.

The physical legacy – the sporting venues used in the Olympics – is also very important. Some of these were specifically designed to be temporary (some of them built and demolished before the IOC permit the architects to take any credit).

Throughout the period from when London won their bid in 2005 the Federation of Gay Games has worked with the London organising committee to encourage more lgbt athletes to compete at high levels. There’s still a long way to go before some sports and countries are comfortable with lgbt team-mates, and one legacy of these games may be a change of attitude.

The London organising committee has already shown its commitment to supporting the work of the Gay Games by backing London’s bid to host the 2018 Gay Games, using some of the 2012 venues for its competitions.

But I think those of us whose bodies are getting too creaky to do sports can think about what sort of legacy we can leave. I suppose my research into lgbt participation in the Olympic Games is part of my legacy. As far as I am aware I was the first to research this specific topic, and I have been pleased that it has been well received.

I adapted my Olympic Countdown series into a continuous narrative that was made available online through Pride House 2012, Outsports and the Federation of Gay Games. It is my hope that other people will begin their own research and develop what I have started. Like the 2012 motto I hope I can inspire.

I think the time is right for us in the lgbt community to make the best of this opportunity to highlight to the world the amazing contribution lgbt athletes have made, and can make, to sport.

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