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Legacy of 2012 lives on in Medway
Medway, midpoint between the capital and the continent, is
continuing to develop its sporting legacy 10 years since launching
its Olympic ambitions.
On 23 January 2007 Medway Council marked 2,012 days to go until
the 2012 London Olympic Games at an event supported by five-time
Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave and fellow Team GB
Olympians Steve Backley and Steve Cram.
A decade on, Medway, the largest urban area east of London,
continues to move forward with its Olympic legacy dreams, as well
as its reputation as a renowned sporting venue and facility that
provides opportunities for aspiring young athletes.
Paralympic ski champion Charlotte Evans, Rugby World Cup winner
Rachael Burford and Olympic trampolinist Kat Driscoll grew up in
Medway, and Olympic gold hockey medallist goalkeeper Maddie Hinch
is just one of the sporting stars who has trained in the area.
Medway has also recently welcomed double Olympic gold medallist Max
Whitlock, who attended the council-organised
Medway Sports Awards and honoured the local sporting
In 2009 Medway Council won a national award for its work in
preparing for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The
Sustainable Communities Award is the UK’s largest community award
and is sponsored by the Health Service Journal and Local Government
Medway Council was recognised for its plans to redevelop one of
its seven leisure centres into an £11million regional centre of
sporting excellence. Today Medway Park is a world-class facility
that elite athletes use for training and competitions, and is used
by residents. Around two-and-a-half million people walk through the
doors of Medway Council’s high-tech sports centres each year.
Medway Park is the home of England Wheelchair Rugby League, and
made British handball history in November 2016 when it hosted an
international women’s handball tournament, for the first time in
the United Kingdom. Medway Park has hosted a range of international
- Tour de France 2007,
- World Cup and European Championship events in modern
- Wheelchair Rugby League World Cups and European
- Olympic athletes in the weeks before they competed at the
- and international events in table tennis, fencing, handball,
sitting volleyball and judo.
Providing opportunities for everyone
Medway’s sporting legacy, built off the back of the success of
the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, is encouraging local
people of all abilities to play, compete and spectate every day.
The area has excellent facilities, including specialist gym
equipment, for those with a disability. The council also organises
annual events for people of all ages and abilities to try
Paralympic sports - as the Paralympic Games got underway in Rio,
Medway Park hosted a Disability Sport Open Day organised by the
council and Medway Community Healthcare.
The council recognises the importance of sport for people’s
health and works closely with its Public Health team, as well as
healthcare professionals in partner agencies to refer individuals
to exercise classes. Medway Council is also working hard to tackle
the national issue of obesity and help reduce the economic burden
on the NHS.
The Medway Mile was born 10 years ago. The mass participation
event encourages people of all ages to get together and walk or run
through the streets of historic Rochester. The event, which
finishes with the spectacular backdrop of Rochester Castle, helps
to get Medway moving and encourages participation in local
activities. Medway Council also hosts yearly mass participation
events, such as the Big Ride and Big Splash.
Encouraging active lifestyles
Supporting grassroot sports is also a fundamental element of the
council’s activity and it works closely with local sports clubs. In
partnership with the Medway Youth Service, Medway Council has been
working closely with the Street Games charity to set up Doorstep
Sport Clubs. This provides opportunities for everyone in the
community to get involved in sport.
Medway Council is also encouraging active lifestyles from an
early age. In September 2016 Medway Council, with the help of
footballers from Gillingham FC and Charlton Athletic, launched the
School Mile initiative. This encourages children to regularly take
part in 15 minutes of activity, averaging a mile. The last 10 years
has also seen a growth in Medway’s school sport programme with
thousands of children taking part in the Mini Youth Games series of
sporting events and its associated coaching programmes.
The council is also rolling out a £2.5million programme of cycle
routes, providing a network of sporting and recreational
Minister for Sport, Tracey Crouch, said: “Sport
has a unique power to change lives for the better. It brings
communities together, has a positive impact on mental as well as
physical health and teaches people valuable life lessons, whether
that's teamwork or striving to be the best you can be.
“Medway Council’s sporting legacy chimes with the government's
own aim to get more people active and give children a great
experience of sport. The council not only supports the grassroots,
providing opportunities to all, but also is a base for talent
Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services
Cllr Howard Doe said: “We had a big task ahead of us in
the build up to the 2012 Olympics. The council had huge ambitions
to make the most of having the Olympics on our doorstep, just 35
minutes away from London on the HS1, and our teams set to work to
turn those ambitions into reality.
“A lot has happened in ten years, and Medway Park, Medway’s
regional centre of sporting excellence, has to be one of the most
successful outcomes. The former Black Lion leisure centre underwent
an £11m makeover to become the international sporting events venue
it is today, as well as a first class facility for local
“Our work is not done though, we must continue to deliver
exciting sporting events and opportunities for residents, enabling
everyone, no matter their age, ability or budget, to be able to
prioritise their health and get active. Medway’s sporting legacy
has flourished over the past ten years, and I hope that will
continue for decades to come.”