Birmingham first out of the blocks

By on 17/08/2009 in Blog

Mike-WhitbyBirmingham City Council Leader Mike Whitby makes his blogging debut and, like millions of people around the world today, he's talking about the remarkable events in Berlin last night.

Pick up any newspaper, virtually anywhere in the world, this morning and you're sure to see one man grinning out at you from the front page.

Usain Bolt, aka the Lightning Bolt, the fastest man in history swept to World Athletics Championship gold last night, smashing his own 100m record with a breathtaking performance in Berlin.

The 22-year-old Jamaican, who most experts agree will get faster, recorded a time of 9.58 seconds to shave 0.11 off the mark he set last year when winning gold at the Beijing Olympics.

Click on the panel below to enjoy Bolt’s stunning performance once again.

In short, Usain Bolt is big, big news and I'm proud to say I spent a minute in his company last week (that's about 600m's worth of Bolt time).

Now you may already be aware that Bolt and his Jamaican team mates are coming to Birmingham. On Friday the Jamaican Amateur Athletic Association announced they will use our city as a training camp ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Great news obviously, but why exactly?

Well, with USA Track and Field also set to sign a deal, I have no doubt whatsoever that here in Birmingham we're shaping up to be 2012 winners.

And there are plenty of examples to support that claim.

Take the Gold Coast (Brisbane) experience in 2000. They played host to Team GB and others ahead of the Sydney Olympics and reaped the rewards, both financially and in terms of global media coverage.

The visiting teams alone filled 40,000 bed nights, injecting $Aus15million into the local economy.

At the same time, Brisbane built new a media database of 302 journalists from around the world - many of whom wrote about the city during the build up to the Games. In turn, advertising and media coverage increased the city's international appeal.

That resulted in a staggering 20 per cent increase in tourist bookings from the UK and a 15 per cent upturn from the rest of Europe.

Brisbane continued to benefit from the Sydney Games long after the last athlete had flown home.

Now as I’m always keen to stress, we’re a Global City with a Local Heart and the huge benefits of hosting two of the biggest squads for the 2012 Olympics will be felt across the city, from the business world to communities at the grassroots level.

And that's the point. That's why as a city we have worked hard since London was awarded the 2012 Games. We have always been determined to make the most of the Olympic Games and we can now look forward to 2012 with real relish.

Competition has been fierce in the race to attract training camps and a lot of cities were courting Jamaica and the USA. But we've been the fastest out of the blocks and that's fantastic news for the whole of Birmingham.

The hard work is far from over of course but as Bolt grabs the worldwide headlines this morning, we can look forward to a bit of reflected glory when he and his team mates come to our city in three years' time.

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