The final countdown has begun! The Games of the XXX Olympiad will begin in London next week and although the bulk of the Olympic events will take place down south, Birmingham and the Midlands will still play a large part in their success. This also includes a staff member from Library of Birmingham! Paramjit Hans, who works in our Business and Learning Centre, will be spending his summer holiday as a volunteer driver, rubbing shoulders with visiting dignitaries and making sure they get to the events on time. Paramjit is a big sports fan and keen athlete himself, and is hoping to find time in his busy summer schedule to keep up his training for the Great North Run and the Birmingham Half Marathon.
The second city was chosen as a host destination for the Olympic Torch Relay. The torch arrived in the Britain from Greece on Friday 18th May and left Land’s End the following day for an epic journey around the country arriving at the Olympic Stadium on the 27th July for the Opening Ceremony of the XXX Olympiad. The torch arrived in Birmingham on Saturday June 30th. The occasion was marked by a celebration of the city’s culture, sport and heritage and a concert in Cannon Hill Park. One of the Faces of the Library of Birmingham, Matt Windle (pictured) carried the torch through Sparkhill.
Birmingham will also be hosting the USA and Jamaican athletes training camps at the Alexander Stadium and the University of Birmingham respectively. The people of Birmingham will be able to witness some of the world’s top athletes as they make their final preparations for the games.
The Midlands has provided a number of Olympic athletes over the years. A Birmingham sporting legend, Tommy Godwin has been chosen as an ambassador for the 2012 Games. Cyclist Tommy won two Olympic Bronze medals at the 1948 London Olympics. He later managed the British Olympic Cycling team at the 1964 Tokyo Games. Tommy worked for many years at the BSA factory in the Small Heath area of Birmingham and for 36 years ran a cycle shop, ‘Tommy Godwin Cycles’ in Silver Street, Kings Heath.
Tessa Sanderson who was brought up in Wolverhampton actually competed in six Olympic Games, winning a Gold Medal in the 1984 Javelin event. She was the first British Black woman to win Olympic Gold and was subsequently awarded an MBE (later upgraded to an OBE and then a CBE).
Denise Lewis OBE was born in West Bromwich in 1972 and won Olympic Gold in the 2000 Sydney Olympics’ heptathlon. Darlaston’s Mark Lewis-Francis and Coventry’s Marlon Devonish formed part of the Men’s 4 x 100m relay squad that took Gold at the 2004 Athens Games.
I’d like to wish everyone involved in the London 2012 Olympics the best of luck with the challenges they face – especally Paramjit in the London traffic!
You can buy official London 2012 merchandise from the shop in Central Library reception. You can also see Olympic images from our Sir Benjamin Stone Collection in the frames mounted on the Library of Birmingham hoardings, outside the Birmingham Rep Theatre from 13th July – 9th September 2012.
Photo Credit: Chris Radburn/LOCOG/Press Association Images