Schwarzenegger invited to visit east London

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The Independent Online

Arnold Schwarzenegger has been invited to be a special guest at the London 2012 Olympics, Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales said today.

Sir Robin has written to the California Governor and star of the Terminator films urging him to take a trip down memory lane during the Games.

Schwarzenegger's links to the east London's Olympic borough of Newham stretch back decades to when he used to train at bodybuilder Wag Bennett's gym in Newham.

Sir Robin describes Schwarzenegger as a "long-time friend of our borough" in the letter, which has been sent to his office in Sacramento.

"You may be wondering why the Mayor of Newham - a place more than 5,000 miles away from Sacramento, California - is sending a letter to your office," Sir Robin wrote.

"The reason why I would like you to be in our company is that the vast majority of the Games, some 60%, will be held within Newham - much of it within walking distance of your former training ground in Forest Gate, where you forged a lasting bond with the late Wag Bennett.

"You have been an inspiration to weightlifters and sportspeople - men and women - since you started winning titles during the 1970s and have capitalised on your appeal by moving on to acting and now governing California."

Sir Robin tells Schwarzenegger there have been lots of changes in the borough, particularly ahead of the Olympics, and adds "it would be a pleasure for me to give you a personal tour".

If the offer of being a guest of honour VIP is not enough to tempt Schwarzenegger, Sir Robin seeks to provide money-saving advice.

He wrote: "Additionally, it would be an honour for the council to offer assistance in talking to you about efficiency savings.

"California's unique fiscal problems could be helped through an understanding of how Newham Council has identified £70 million in savings over three years.

"While this figure may seem small when compared to the amounts being dealt with by your office, it is the percentage of spend reduction which offers an excellent insight into sound management of the local economy."

Sir Robin, who is still waiting for an answer from Schwarzenegger, said: "I would be delighted if Arnold Schwarzenegger accepts our invite for him to be our civic guest during the Olympic Games. We hope: He'll Be Back.

"In Newham we pride ourselves on our people and in Arnold we saw how far a person with local connections can go with determination and ambition. He trained at Wag Bennett's gym in Forest Gate and proved anything is possible if you put your mind to it."