Preparations for London 2012 have stepped up another gear, with major international sporting events taking place at the triathlon, rowing and sailing venues, as excitement continues to build ahead of next year’s Olympic Games.
London’s Hyde Park played host to the world’s leading triathletes from 6-7 August as part of the ITU World Championship Series, while Eton’s Dorney Lake staged the Junior World Rowing Championships from 3-7 August. Elsewhere, the 2011 Weymouth and Portland International Regatta has brought elite sailors from around the world together to compete in 10 Olympic classes in Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour, which will host the sailing events during the Games next year.
All three events were being used by the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) to test crucial aspects of its Games-time operations. The events are also helping to build excitement among the general public by giving them the chance to enjoy the experience of watching world-class sport in Olympic venues.
Britain’s Alistair Brownlee triumphed in the men’s triathlon in Hyde Park and was impressed by the enthusiasm of the crowd as he crossed the finish line. The 2009 world champion is already looking forward to a similar response during the Games next year.
"It was one of the best receptions I've ever had and the whole event was a great experience," said Brownlee. "The run down the last stretch was incredible. I'm sure there'll be 10 times as many people in 2012."
The 14-day Weymouth and Portland International Regatta has seen 460 sailors descend on the Olympic venue in order to gain experience of the course ahead of London 2012. Finn competitor Pieter Jan Postma, from the Netherlands, is one of those who is pleased to have the opportunity to compete in Weymouth before the Games next year.
“It is good that we have a test event here to learn the conditions,” said Postma. “It's good to get familiar and know the surroundings.”
The Junior World Rowing Championships, at Dorney Lake near Windsor, saw almost 600 young rowing stars from 48 countries compete at the Olympic venue, giving LOCOG the chance to test important aspects of its Games-time operations, such as the sporting field of play and the results, timing and scoring systems.
“It’s incredibly exciting to see our work come to fruition and to see elite athletes competing on the lake,” said LOCOG’s Director of Sport, Debbie Jevans. “We can see how it will be in 2012. There is a view of Windsor Castle in the background, so it looks fantastic. It's one of the best rowing facilities in the world.”