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United Kingdom and Brazil celebrate One Year Anniversary of the London 2012 Games & Kick-Off for the Rio 2016 Games - Speech by H.E. Mrs. Marianne Young, British High Commissioner
Master of Ceremonies, Principal Paul du Plessis, Dr. Veii, Director of Sports, Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture, Your Excellency Sampaio Fernandes, Ambassador of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Chief School Inspector Khomas Region, Urbanus Kaihiva, Eminent Sport Officials, Special invited guests, Teachers and Pupils, Members of the media, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be standing in front of you today, one year on from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics’ Games. Between 27 July and 09 September this year, people all over the world will celebrate the legacy of what was the GREATEST sporting show on earth last year.
If I had to sum up the achievements of the Games in my capital city, I would use the simple tag line: London 2012 - Turning the Games into Gold. 2012 was an inspirational year and I sure we can all agree that the London 2012 Games were a success: For the world, for the UK and also for Namibia.
Namibia won its first Gold Medal. The Games raised the profile of disability sports around the world.
The Games were the most sustainable ever: In terms of social, economic and environmental aspects. And sustainability was placed at the heart of the design, planning and delivery of the Olympic Park.
London 2012 was the greatest games ever in environment terms, setting a new international standard: A benchmark for future global sporting events.
London 2012 gave millions of people, young and old, from Britain and across the world, the chance to see the best the Britain has to offer.
The Games showcased British Excellence in sporting, engineering, and design, to name a few.
They also provided some of the most iconic moments in Olympic history, include Usain Bolt’s “double triple” – retaining his 100m, 200m and 4x100m titles; Michael Phelps becoming the most decorated Olympian ever with 22 medals (18 gold); David Rudisha becoming the first athlete to run the 800m inside 1m 41s; and Mo Farah winning double Olympic gold at his home Games in the 5,000m and 10,000m.
I am proud to tell you that the UK is also going to use the inspirational power of 2012 to deliver lasting change:
We have a clear vision to deliver a strong legacy over the next 10 years, which was hailed by the International Olympic Committee as a ‘blueprint’ for future games.
Strong foundations are being laid to ensure lasting legacy across five core areas: Sport, Economic, Community, East London and Paralympics.
For Namibia and the UK, the Paralympic Games 2012 will be a particular highlight which will be remembered for generations. Last year’s Paralympic Games raised the profile and calibre of Paralympics’ Athletes and Sports all over the world.
Before I mention Namibia’s achievements, with the outstanding performance by Johanna Benson, I want to highlight a few facts from our side. The Games saw record-breaking numbers of spectators with over 7.4 million people visiting the venues and some 2.7 million tickets sold for Paralympic events, making it the best-attended Paralympic Games in history.
Next year, we will celebrate the first festival of disability sport in the UK.
In addition, in 2017, the Olympic Stadium will stage the IPC Paralympic Athletics World Cup and the World Athletics Championships. This will be the first time the two events have been staged together.
Sport England is investing £8m (N$ 121m) this year to develop more grassroots projects to help get disabled people into sport.
For Namibia, the importance of the 2012 London Games cannot be overemphasized.
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the fine Namibian sportsmen and women for their performances - and in particular Johanna Benson who made history when she won Namibia’s first-ever gold medal at the Paralympic Games on September 6 in the Women’s T37 200m final. Since then she has become a sensation amongst Namibians from all walks of life.
The actions of such outstanding young Paralympians have helped change attitudes towards disabled people around the world – and highlight that success depends on effort and ability – and that people should be judged not on what they can’t do but what they can. Not a week goes by without Paralympic athletes being reported about in the local newspapers. Just this week, a headline in a local daily read: “Benson, the heroine, inspires disabled kids”.
Benson, now commonly referred to as the “Golden Girl”, has inspired Namibians and people across the globe. Funding and public appreciation for athletes with special needs has increased. Namibian athletes who are physically and intellectually challenged have been receiving well deserved recognition.
The Olympic family every four years celebrates the Olympics and Paralympics. A third member of the sports family is the Special Olympics. This school, where we are gathered today, is for intellectually impaired pupils. By choosing this venue and by choosing Dagbreek as recipient of our support, we also want to highlight the importance the Special Olympics play.
Dear Mr. Du Plessis, in the name of my government and of my entire staff, let me thank you and your team for the hard work you put into this special school.
As a token of appreciation I want to hand over this donation, worth N$ 18.000, to your school and to your learners. I am sure, the equipment will be useful for the physical development of your students.
Today we also want to celebrate and initiate the kick-off to the next Games to be held in Rio 2016. Plus I want to wish all the best to the host nation, Brazil. I want to assure you, Your Excellency, that you will find open doors at the British High Commission, whenever you seek our support. We are now looking forward to a set of excellent Games in your country, Brazil.
In closing, I wish everyone here a fun filled day and hope that you will enjoy the event.
I thank you.