Birmingham carries a torch for the 2012 Olympics

By on 30/12/2011 in News

Double Olympic medal winner Tommy Godwin, 91, was joined by potential future Olympian Amelia Benjamin, 14 to hold aloft the 1948 Olympic Torch, marking Birmingham's commitment to the 2012 Olympic Games.

Former Birmingham resident Tommy and Amelia maked a special trip on December 30 to Victoria Square in Birmingham to help bring in 2012 and celebrate Birmingham's role in hosting both the USA and Jamaica track and field training camps in the lead up to the Olympics in London.

Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Birmingham is committed to supporting the Olympic Games, and ensuring the benefits are felt by Birmingham people – this will not just be an event for London. 2012 will be a major year for the City of Birmingham, and through the Olympics we will play an important part of the legacy programme as well.

“We have already delivered a formidably successful campaign to bring world-famous athletes into Birmingham ahead of the Games – securing the world’s fastest athletes and the world’s most successful Olympic team – by convincing Jamaica and the USA track and field teams to train here ahead of the Olympics.”

“With full coverage of the Games being shown on the BBC big screen in Victoria Square, there will be a whole host of activities in the city to celebrate the Jamaica and USA track and field camps. We will be bringing the Olympic spirit to the heart of Birmingham.”

The Sportivate is a four year programme aimed at targeting 14-25 year olds with a very real focus and aim of retaining them in meaningful and mainstream community sporting activity. There are plans agreed for 76 projects already in which have attracted in the region of £60,000 in partnership funding.

The current cumulative figure for the West Midlands stands at £515 million worth of contracts won by firms across the West Midlands by over 310 different companies. (source Advantage West Midlands).

Amelia, from Sutton Coldfield, a pupil at Arthur Terry School, said: “It gives me great pleasure to welcome in the new-year by celebrating the commitment that Birmingham is making to the 2012 Olympic Games. I am so proud we are hosting two of the world’s greatest athletic teams with some of the fastest and most successful Olympians on the planet.”

Tommy added: “I am very proud that the 2012 games are taking place in the UK as I didn't think I would witness the Olympics back in this country in my lifetime. I would like to call upon the people of Birmingham to show their pride too by giving the Jamaican and USA teams a very warm welcome. I am sure these athletes will inspire young people to take part in sports and perhaps become Olympians of the future.”

Councillor Martin Mullaney, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture at Birmingham City Council said: “The Olympic year of 2012 will be an exciting one for sport in Birmingham culminating in the Jamaican and US track and field teams coming to the city in the summer.

“Our Olympic year starts well before that however as we will be hosting qualifying events in Badminton, BMX and Tennis ahead of the Games.  Birmingham Alexander Stadium will also be hosting the Great Britain track and field Olympic team selection trials and of course we can also look forward to the torch relay making its way through the city too.”

The BBC Big Screen in Victoria Square will show the London 2012 celebrations live on New Year's Eve between 10.00pm and 12.30am, with a pyrotechnic display at midnight.


Notes to editors

1948 Olympic Torch

The 1948 Olympic Torch has been borrowed from Loughborough University, where it is housed.

Loughborough College's Olympic heritage began in 1948, when Commander Collins, a teacher at the College's summer schools, was instructed to organise the Olympic Torch Relay and manufacture the Olympic torch.

Loughborough College is working in conjunction with the British Heart Foundation to deliver a programme called 'Flames; Lighting the Way' an Olympic and Paralympic value driven programme, delivered by young leaders and centred around physical activity and health.


Tommy Godwin

Tommy won two Olympic bronze medals for cycling in the 1948 Olympics, in the 1km time trial and team pursuit, the last time the Games were held in this country. He also went on to become the first Great Britain cycling coach, a position he held during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. He also ran a cycle shop in Kings Heath. Tommy is a 'Flames: Lighting the Way' ambassador.

Amelia Benjamin

Amelia joined Birchfield Harriers at the age of 11 and has just completed her third season in the sport.  She became the Warwickshire County record holder over 100m and 200m during her first season in the sport (in 2009) as an Under 13 Girl and still holds these records.  She has continued to win numerous county level competitions over these distances between 2009 and 2011. She became the National Sportshall Champion in 2010 in both the 2 lap race and standing triple jump. She began the 2011 season with a number of repetitive hamstring injuries.  She competed for Team Birmingham at the Gibson Relays in Jamaica during March 2011 where unfortunately she sustained yet another hamstring injury.  Despite these early setbacks she was able to win the Junior Girls 100m final at the English Schools Championships in July 2011.  She is looking forward to next season where she will compete at intermediate level for the first time and hopes to be able to wear an England vest for the first time in 2012 if all goes well.

Amelia currently attends the Arthur Terry school in Sutton Coldfield and the Headteacher, Chris Stone has described her in the following way: “Amelia is a wonderful athlete and lovely young lady. She is an excellent ambassador for all of us.”

For more information call Lawrence Vos on 0121 303 4835

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