East London youngsters enjoy 2012 Olympic legacy benefits in advance of the Games

Saturday, 21 April 2012
By David Gold at the Copper Box on the Olympic Park in London 

Legacy event_Handball_Arena_2_April_21April 21 - A glimpse of London 2012's legacy offering was seen here today in the Olympic Park's Copper Box when more than 1,000 youngsters tried out a wide range of sports, including handball, table tennis and judo.

The event was the latest in a series of One Movement festivals run by the East London Business Alliance, who are funded by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor.

One Movement aim to inspire young people in the six East London Olympic Host Boroughs to take part in sport by showcasing a variety of sports.

Today's event at the arena that will host handball during the Olympics and goalball during the Paralympics was opened by former 110 metres hurdler and 1998 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Tony Jarrett, also a veteran of four Olympic Games.

The children, aged between 11 and 19 spent the afternoon trying out the sports on offer, which also included dance, athletics, cycling and rowing.

More unusual sports were also available to try, including new age curling, which is regular curling but played in an indoor arena, and resistance sliding, which involves children dragging themselves on a mat across the floor.

Of all the activities here today, one of the most popular was Rollapalooza, which features two competitors cycling against each other to get to a 250m mark first.

Hadiyah, 14, and Alieh, 13, both from Waltham Forest, tried dance, handball and tennis.

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"I think they want us to try different things, which is good," said Hadiyah.

Alieh said: "[I will] definitely do dance again.

"I did not think I was any good but I tried it and it was fun."

Jarrett was inspired to become one of the world's top hurdlers by watching the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and told insidethegames that he hoped today's event could have a similar impact on the children at the event.

"It is a great opportunity...I remember when I was young and my first experience was watching the Olympic Games," Jarrett said.

"To have these young kids today in one of the arenas where athletes will be taking part [in the Olympics]...is amazing.

"It is about trying a variety of sports.

"I tried football, cricket and tennis, but I loved basketball.

"Then athletics came along and took over, so it is good for these kids to try all these different sports.

"These...kids [are] the future."

Children were also signposted to local clubs where they can continue to take part in sports they enjoyed during the day.

The day delivered on a key promise – made in 2005 in Singapore by London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe when the British capital won the right to host the Games – to inspire "young people to choose sport".

Handball Arena_Olympic_park_April_21
The Copper Box is one of the London 2012 venues that will remain in public hands after the Games are over.

Of all the purpose built venues, the Copper Box is one of the likeliest to provide a strong London 2012 legacy, as it has seating which can be removed easily to change the shape of the playing surface to suit a variety of sports.

In 2013, the Copper Box will operate as a multi-use community venue run by Greenwich Leisure Limited, who will provide the same service for the Aquatics Centre.

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) will also ensure that the cost of hiring a court at the venue is the same as the average price charged by local leisure centres.

"It is fitting that today is the first time we are having a multi sports event in a multi sport arena," LLDC head of venues Peter Tudor told insidethegames.

"The really great thing about [the Copper Box] is its versatility.

"You can get 7,000 people in here, you can have basketball, volleyball, handball and even a concert so in legacy [terms] it is the most versatile stadium of all."

The £43 million (€53 million/$70 million) venue was constructed by MAKE and the Buckingham Group.

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