LISA NANDY - Wigan right to love the Olympics

Lisa Nandy
Lisa Nandy

THE nation has been gripped by Olympic fever this summer ... and Wigan was no exception.

For many it began with the torch relay which weaved its way through the borough and allowed us to showcase local heroes like Cameron Foster, the teenager who has raised thousands of pounds for charity, and brought hundreds of us out onto the streets in support.

Wigan’s children have also been taking part in sporting activities as part of the Olympic Get Set Network.

The London Olympics promised to create a legacy by inspiring future generations of young people through sport.

But when this Government abolished the School Sports Partnerships that provided such amazing opportunities in schools the Olympic legacy seemed in doubt, but Wigan schools have responded brilliantly to the challenge.

For a few lucky young people the Games was also a chance to see their heroes in person.

Last month I presented tickets, provided by Street Games and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, to young people from The Meadows in Worsley Hall who were given the opportunity to see Team GB play Senegal in the Olympic football at Old Trafford.

But behind the scenes many other Wiganers played a huge part in delivering the games themselves.

They included wrestling coach Roy Wood who trained the Olympic Wrestler Maria Dunn from Guam at the Aspull Olympic Wrestling Club.

Roy, who last year won the BBC Unsung Hero Award, is well known for his contribution to wrestling and his commitment to young people, and he couldn’t be a more fitting person to play a part in the Games.

In total more than 250 North West businesses won £22 million of contracts to help deliver the London 2012 Olympics, including Wigan business Ainscough Crane Hire, which helped to ensure the bridges and stadium were constructed. Martin Ainscough, the company’s former chairman, is also a leading figure behind Wigan’s youth zone which will open next year.

After I became Wigan’s MP I spent 18 months working as the aide to our shadow Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell.

As part of that role I was keen to ensure that the London Olympics had benefits for people beyond London, in towns like Wigan and across the country.

The 2012 Olympics did bring benefits to Wigan, but more importantly we have shown that towns like ours have benefited the Olympics.

It is a testament to the talent we have in Wigan that we have played such a big role in delivering the Games and showcased that talent on a global stage.