FORMER Olympics minister Dame Tessa Jowell delivered a speech at a packed Milton Keynes College yesterday evening (Tuesday), writes Charles Crook.
Dame Tessa came to the college to deliver a talk about her involvement in developing London’s winning bid for last year’s Olympic Games in London and the successful operation of the Games.
She then took questions from students, who grilled her on a variety of subjects. Among the things she discussed was the difficulty in convincing the Blair government to bid for the Olympics and overcoming the challenges to deliver the Games.
She also spoke of her admiration for the New City and how it had similarities with the bidding, construction and operation of the Olympics.
Dame Tessa said: “I come to and get lost in Milton Keynes quite often, but one thing that always strikes me is that there was great ambition in the conception of the town. It was a great belief in possibility and in a way it shares the conviction I had when we initially bid for the Olympics.”
As well as students, the Mayor of Milton Keynes, Councillor Catriona Morris, and various community business figures attended the talk. Labour party candidates Andrew Pakes and Emily Darlington also joined Dame Tessa to help fend questions.
Although the Games have been recognised as a great success, it was initially a hard ask to get the government to support a bid when it was first proposed in 2002.
“Too many people felt big government projects like the Millennium Dome were doomed to fail, even if the Dome has since found success as the O2,” said Dame Tessa.
“Gordon Brown said he had to be sedated as he signed the bid proposal. But in time, everyone came behind it.”
With the Olympics completed, focus now turns to the legacy of the games.
Dame Tessa added: “The lessons of the Olympics are the lessons we need to take forward for the future.
“Sports students are the realisation of our legacy promises. Sport in schools is an important part of the legacy and everything works if young people are engaged. It’s win, win, win, win.”