'Legacy' is a voyage of discovery

As the dust settles on a summer of sporting triumphs at London 2012, how widespread will its impact be? On every front, there is good reason to be optimistic. By Russ Thorne

It’s been quite a summer. The individual and collective trials and triumphs of London 2012 will hopefully keep us all talking long into the winter months, while debates on ‘greatest Olympic/Paralympic moments will certainly roll into the new year. But all good things must come to an end, which begs the question: what now?

The word ‘legacy’ has been tossed around like a beach volleyball throughout the Games, along with the LOCOG mantra ‘inspire a generation’. As the events of London 2012 draw to a close, many are turning their attention to what those ideas actually mean in practice, and what the true legacy of the Games will be.

For some organisations the answer begins in East London, at the Olympic Park itself. As well as leaving its communications technology in place, Cisco, the network infrastructure supporter of the Games, is looking to develop innovation centres to promote new technological advances.

The company is also driving change through its British Innovation Gateway (BIG) Awards, which will see SMEs receive investment and mentoring to further improve their prospects. “This is a fantastic opportunity for businesses to get the help and support they need,” says Phil Smith, CEO, Cisco UK and Ireland. “By nurturing the growing businesses of tomorrow, we are helping to build a brilliant future for technology innovation in the UK.”

Regenerating and repurposing the Olympic Park extends beyond networks and business strategies to the very bricks, mortar and even water of the site.

Investment in passenger boats and improved waterways continues from private operators, while residential properties are getting a new life as the Village. “A key part of the Games Bid was to create a lasting residential legacy,” says Ralph Luck, director of property at the Olympic Delivery Authority. “The East Village will become a significant new community within London, surrounded by world-class sports venues, enviable shopping facilities and excellent transport links.”

As the sporting incarnation of the site gives way to other functions, one workforce departs as the developers move in. However, there is still an employment legacy for those moving on with the new skills they developed. HR services group Penna is working with LOCOG to place thousands of Olympic Games Makers in new roles, and according to CEO Gary Browning the Olympic legacy is definitely not just about the built environment. “These people are very much in demand. The new skills they have range from managing a multi-cultural audience to working in the decade’s most important, high-profile delivery team.”

Indeed, the 70,000 Games Makers were arguably one of the greatest successes of London 2012 and were widely praised throughout. Even with the Games over they can still contribute, as their high-profile roles may well inspire a new wave of voluntary workers across all manner of projects. Jez Langhorn, vice-president of people at- McDonald’s UK – the company which helped select and train the army of volunteers – certainly thinks so. “The global stage of London 2012 gave the Games Makers a chance to show volunteering at its best and inspire millions of people,” he says. “ Looking ahead, if we can keep a little of the Games Maker spirit ignited, then individuals, communities and businesses across the UK will benefit from their volunteering legacy.”

There was another phenomenon rivalling the Games Makers for the impact it had on the Games, though, and it was a collision of human emotion and technological advancement.

Social media, for better (collective celebrations) or worse (Twitter abuse towards athletes), has been a part of London 2012 in a way no one could have predicted in Beijing. “It enhanced the Olympic experience for millions and this should be celebrated and built on,” suggests Jamie Wynne-Morgan, managing director of M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment.

Wynne-Morgan cautions that we’ve already seen the damage social media can do when mis-managed, but remains optimistic about the future. “Rio will be dramatically different from London. Will athletes be kitted out with Google glasses so we can see the race from their perspective? Who can say for sure, but the relationship between technology and sport is going to become more intertwined. The overall legacy is certainly a positive one and this will embraced by future Olympics.”

Whether or not we all watch the next 100m (or indeed the long jump) final via a motion sickness-inducing camera embedded in Usain Bolt’s shoe, the Games have the potential to create a lasting cultural legacy in other mediums besides the digital domain. The Cultural Olympiad has seen millions invested in museums, galleries, theatres and more – BP alone has committed almost £10m to arts partnerships.

“It’s about being more than just a ‘badge’ sponsor,” says Mike Sharrock, BP’s partnership director for London 2012, “it’s about working together to make not only the Games, but the legacy that it leaves, a success.”

John Worne, the British Council’s director of strategy, agrees. “ A truly great games has put UK people, culture and ‘can do’ attitude front and centre worldwide,” he says, drawing attention to projects like ‘International Inspiration’, which uses sport to improve the lives of young people around the world and has already reached 12 million children in 20 countries, as well as the UK. “We often say ‘to know us is to love us’,” he adds. “The Olympics have shown why.”

And what of inspiring a generation?

According to a MediaCom survey the Games have certainly caught young people’s attention, with more than half of 8-12 year-olds saying the Games have made them want to be more active and participate in more sports.

While Premiership footballers can’t be shifted from the top spot in terms of those idolised by boys, for girls it’s all about Jessica Ennis, Beth Tweddle and (unsurprisingly) Tom Daley.

“It’s really encouraging to see an increasing number of kids wanting to be professional athletes when they are older,” says Pauline Robson, director of real world insight at MediaCom. “A few years ago the results showed many children saying they wanted their job to involve being ‘famous’ for no reason, so this shift is really positive.”

There are other shifts that point to the varied legacy of the Games: a heightened awareness of the ecological impact, perhaps, evidenced by EDF’s real-time energy monitoring systems installed at all Olympic venues.

Or a growing awareness of the science, technology, maths and engineering (Stem) skills that underpinned the Games and the provided the tools allowing Paralympians to compete.

There’s also the prospect of an increased interest in sports of all kinds, from rowing – the British Rowing website jumped from 150 to 5,500 hits in one day – to handball, or perhaps beach volleyball, another hit of the Games. In another piece of legacy in action, some 4,000 tonnes of sand will leave the Olympic venues and go to sports facilities throughout London and the South East to help equip new courts and further participation in the sport, courtesy of LOCOG and Volleyball England.

Of course, be it technological, cultural or sporting, the exact legacy of the Olympics can’t be predicted yet as we’re still reliving the highlights.

For now, there can be little doubt about the scale of London 2012’s triumphs in and out of the sporting arena, and of the opportunities it has created for businesses, residents and budding athletes alike far into the future.

Even the sand gets a chance to inspire a generation.

READ MORE

Cisco BIG Awards

The Olympic and Paralympic Games were a huge success. Thanks in no small part to all the hard work put in from everyone involved. Cisco put in a huge amount of effort and commitment too, viewing The Games as part of a bigger vision to help SMEs’ drive for technological innovation, and that’s why it has left all the equipment in the Olympic Park for SMEs to benefit from.

Read more...
 
Quantcast
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam