Ealing's Olympic Legacy

Council leader Julian Bell writes:

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Last night in full Council meeting I announced that as part of Ealing Council’s Olympic legacy we would be building a new BMX track at Gurnell leisure centre to compliment the highly successful skate park. BMX riding is now an Olympic sport and this new facility will be very popular with local children and young people.

This is the latest in a number of sports legacy projects that we are delivering during Olympic year right across the Borough. All our residents will be able to benefit from these new sporting facilities but it is particularly our young people that we need to enthuse about sport and to get their active participation and engagement as a result of the Olympics.

The health dividends of a physically active lifestyle begun through active engagement in sport in childhood are huge. Obesity in children and adults is a massive challenge that urgently needs to be reversed if the health and financial costs of these poor lifestyle choices are not to spiral out of control. I currently sit on the London Health Improvement Board and have been given the task of leading efforts across the capital to tackle obesity especially amongst the young. Sport and healthy eating are critical to this effort and we are using the Olympics to spearhead the campaign.

Recently I met with a group of young people from our local schools who have been chosen to be Olympic Ambassadors, at the launch of the “Get Set” challenge for all our schools. The ‘Get Set’ five challenges are based around the five Olympic values and I hope as many of our young people will take part in all the challenges. One of them is a physical challenge and I have committed to cycle 2012 kilometres in 2012 to do my bit. It is a real challenge for me – muscles I never knew I had are continuously aching - but I am enjoying the fresh air, shedding weight and making a mental note to myself every time I pass a petrol station that I am now only paying 0p per litre.

Another Olympic legacy will be the first ever Ealing Half Marathon being held on Sunday 30th September in central Ealing starting and finishing in Lammas Park. A local running club Ealing Eagles are working with the Council to put on what we hope will be a regular event in years to come. 1,000 runners have already signed up and you can too by going to www.ealinghalfmarathon.com

Ealing has a great sporting history. W.G. Grace played at Ealing Cricket Club. Fred Perry the last British winner of the Wimbledon Men’s Singles title played tennis at the Brentham Club in Pitshanger. Former North Ealing Primary and Drayton Manor High pupil Peter Crouch has played football for England and double Olympic Gold Medallist Dame Kelly Holmes is a proud member of Ealing Athletics Club. You can learn more about that history at the Gunnersbury Park Museum exhibition “Our Sporting Life” for free until 28 August.

We have the overnight Olympic Torch relay event in Walpole Park to look forward to on Tuesday 24th July after it has progressed through the Borough from Northala Fields down Lady Margaret Road to Southall and then along the Uxbridge Road through Hanwell, West Ealing and Ealing town centre. We will also be cheering on our own Ealing Olympic athletes in the games themselves – hockey players Hannah Macleod and Anne Panter; sprinter Laura Turner and Taekwondo fighter Josh Webley. It will be quite a sporting summer!

Cllr Julian Bell

April 5, 2012