ANDY Rutherford, father of Olympic gold medallist Greg, has written a letter to the Citizen to express his frustration that Milton Keynes has not properly celebrated his son’s success. Here is that letter in full and unedited.
Until now, I have felt it inappropriate to comment on the situation with regards the “intended” homecoming celebrations for my son Greg Rutherford and the other Olympians and Paralympians from our area.
Before I continue, I must make the point that what I am going to say is not coming from any political standpoint, but simply the reaction of a proud dad who has seen first hand the effort and dedication that Greg, and I am sure the others have put in, to reach firstly Team GB and then to actually win a medal.
We as a family have lived in Bletchley for 25 years, moving here with one small child, my eldest son Robert, soon to be followed by Greg and later my daughter Natalie. Some of the attractions for us moving house were affordable housing, a developing area with a high youth population and a “let’s make it happen” attitude.
I feel it important to say that during the time that my family have been growing up, I have always been so impressed with the local coaches and volunteers that make the sports clubs in our area such good places for our kids to get an understanding of the power of sport and how it can have positive effects on both a small and large scale.
Our local newspapers also play an important part in the reporting of and bringing to our attention the opportunities for sport in our area. Sport really can bridge all levels of our society.
If you are a child that shows sporting talent, it doesn’t matter what size of house you live or what your dad or mum do for a living, you will be recognised for your ability. Indeed sport can offer those with the humblest of backgrounds the chance to make more of their lives.
For a child to first become interested in a sport it often takes encouragement from parents, friends or in my case – watching major sporting success by a British team, in the case of Man Utd winning the 1968 European Cup Final.
This gives you some of the background as to why I find it’s disappointing that the MK Council have not taken the earliest opportunity to make the most of our Olympic success.
Role models such as Greg can be used for major positive effects with our youth. For the children of our city to have seen Greg and all the other Olympians while the events were fresh in their minds could have been so inspirational.
I do question if the Mayor’s office and the councillors realise how difficult to win an Olympic medal, let alone gold. Out of a UK population of 63 million people, only three won athletics Olympic gold medals this year, Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford. Out of the world’s population of approximately seven billion people, those three were the best at their events on that day.
I am not stating the above in any arrogant way, just trying to show that the achievement is quit large and as such, could be extremely inspirational to our kids and some adults.
Surely the most effective way to reach all these local people would have been to have a homecoming bus ride or reception where everybody (not just MK Dons ticketholders) could have seen Greg and the other athletes.
It looks from the outside that the council have managed to take the ‘celebrations’ onto an existing day being held by the Dons, which to some extent devalues the importance of the achievement (it is very unlikely that Greg and some of the other Olympics and Paralympians can attend anyway).
Woburn Sands Council have made it their business to bridge the gap created by MK by having their own open top bus ride for Greg. This is fantastic that a council, where Greg has lived for four years, have organised this, although the council responsible for where Greg lived for the first 21 years of his life have apparently ‘dragged their heels’ in their decision making with regards to the above.
Please note that I am not criticising the difficult job that the council do for all of us. It just seems that in this matter, they could have acted more positively and more quickly.
Yours faithfully, Andy Rutherford.
P.S. All that I have written are my own thoughts and feelings with regards to the situation. None of the above are representative of what Greg may think about it.