Olympic legend impressed by Norfolk’s 2012 projects

An Olympic legend had a whistle-stop tour of the county yesterday to find out how London 2012 is inspiring Norfolk people to improve their lives.

Triple jumper Jonathan Edwards, who is now a board member for the Games, was impressed by the excitement over the event during his visit.

Beginning the day in Dereham, the world record holder joined users of the town's day service centre on their Team East For Skills sports leadership programme.

He then headed west to Marham Junior School to see Zimbabwean theatre company Grassroots bring to life the Olympic and Paralympic values.

Finally the Olympian headed to Lynnsport in King's Lynn to talk to young people about why volunteering is so important to the games' success.

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He said: 'There has been a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm for the Games everywhere I have been in Norfolk and people are really excited about the Games coming to London.

'For me, what I have seen in Norfolk has embodied the magic of 2012. Yes, it is being held in London, but the Olympics is about the grass roots and improving people's lives.

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'People are working really hard here to bring 2012 to life in Norfolk and to come here and see how the Games will benefit people has been really exciting.'

During his visit to Dereham, Mr Edwards saw how the Team East For Skills sports leadership programme – run by Creative Arts East and Football in the Community – helps unemployed adults with physical and learning disabilities to work towards an entry-level qualification in coaching.

After taking part in a theory session looking at the importance of warming up, he then got on his feet to join in with some football-inspired drills.

He said the scheme was a perfect example of what the legacy of the Olympics could mean. 'We think of the Olympics and Paralympics as this big glitzy affair but, through the Inspire mark, 2012 is here in rural Norfolk working with some of the most disadvantaged people,' he said.

'We never wanted it to be an elite party in the summer of 2012. We want it to have a broad-reaching effect.'

The Olympic gold medallist said his highlight of the day was visiting Marham Junior School and seeing how the spirit of the Games was brought to life for the children through dance, drama, music and song.

Mr Edwards also took part in some African song and dance with the Zimbabwean theatre group, which has been used by Norfolk County Council for ten years.

James Carswell, cabinet member for cultural services, said: 'Norfolk is at the forefront of using Olympic and Paralympic-themed projects to develop our sporting and cultural stars of the future.

'We are also using the inspiration of the Games to help individuals to make a difference to their own lives and those of others.

'As an Olympic gold medallist and now intricate in planning London 2012, Jonathan provided inspiration to those he visited and reinforced the opportunities that hosting an Olympic and Paralympic Games brings to people in our county.'

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