OLYMPIC organising committee boss Paul Deighton says the ‘magic’ of the games is inspiring projects in Cheshire ahead of London 2012.
Paul stopped off in Chester on a tour of schemes across the North West as Olympic organisers attempt to shed the event’s London centric image.
He was attending a conference discussing the potential legacy for the region at Chester Racecourse which, in 2012, will become the training camp for the Great Britain equestrian team.
Paul hopes the Chester base will be opened up to the public when the Olympic frenzy is at its height.
“There will plenty of opportunities for people to understand what goes into getting ready for an Olympic Games and preparing for the Olympic Games in a team which has strong medal-winning chances.”
The Olympics boss had earlier witnessed handball sessions over in Warrington where he also met elite young athletes who receive free access to venues in return for acting as ambassadors encouraging people to take up sport.
Paul said the Olympics was a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ to drive all kinds of sporting and cultural activities and in a harsh economic climate was sometimes about ‘turbo-charging’ existing schemes.
Chris Brown, chairman of Cheshire and Warrington 2012 steering group, is bidding for the Olympic torch relay to pass through Cheshire and is ‘confident’ it will come through Chester.
And many schools have registered with the Get Set education programme with more than 50% signed up in Warrington while Cheshire East has the third highest penetration rate in the North West.
Chris dismissed murmuring's that Cheshire West could do more to enter the Olympic spirit.
“I am encouraged by the level of intent as far as Cheshire West is concerned,” said Chris, who hopes the GB equestrian training camp will act as a catalyst to raise the profile of equestrianism in Cheshire and bring together “a fragmented” sector.
A horse-riding club for the disabled in Northwich has been inspired by 2012 and is one of 75 projects in the region to be awarded the Inspire Mark.
In addition, he explained that the council was promoting physical activity by offering free swimming to under 16s and over 60s.
Arts organisation Chester Performs is developing a cultural programme coinciding with the Olympics.
And Chris hopes the games will create business opportunities for local companies such as a Saltney firm Vannplastic Ltd which is providing decking for the Olympic Stadium.