Podium’s Stuart Appleby interviews two-time Olympic gold medallist and Great Britain legend Daley Thompson. Famed for his heroics in the decathlon, Thompson won gold medals in Moscow (1980) and Los Angeles (1984).
Thompson spoke to Stuart at a BT Olympics Exhibition – inspired by the drama and spectacle of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games on Monday 25th June at Clarendon Fine Art in London.
Daley Thompson’s Olympic Games heroics in the 1980s, where he won two prized gold medals in the decathlon (Moscow, 1980 and Los Angeles, 1984), will bring back stirling memories for most sports followers.
Widely acknowledged as one of the finest athletics talents Great Britain has ever produced, the man who broke the world record on four separate occasions in his specialist sport, knows a thing or two about competing in the big arena, and perhaps more so, understands the impact an Olympic Games can have on a generation.
Thompson, himself, as a BT Ambassador for London 2012, regularly visits educational institutions around the country and aims to inspire young people to get involved with sport (and the Games) to promote its core Olympic values.
As we enter the home straight and prepare for the ‘biggest show on earth’ next month’, the 53-year-old admits that the Games’ legacy in the future is very important.
“I think the legacy that we can have from the Olympic Games is getting sport and healthy activity back into schools, colleges and universities.
“It’s vital that we get youngsters playing sport because it teaches you some great lessons,” he said, speaking after opening a BT Art of Sport Exhibition celebrating stunning artwork to commemorate the Games.
He added: “The Games are supposed to (inspire a new generation) and I think it comes down to how they are presented. There’s no point in inspiring a new generation, if for instance, there’s not the infrastructure in place and know how to sustain it. Once you’ve inspired the generation they need somewhere to go and somewhere to play sports.
“Most of us learn our sport at youth level and in education, and that has a huge affect on an athlete in terms of health and being competitive – and you get that in education.”
Away from the competitiveness of the sporting world, Thompson paid tribute to the wider, cultural impact the Games has had across Great Britain.
“That’s what the Olympics do (have a big impact). People haven’t been prepared for the huge scope and the Games’ ability to connect with people. I think that there’s no reason why just the sport should be thriving – and things like culture should play a big part in it as well.”
Looking ahead to the London 2012 Games and Team GB has a tough assignment to improve upon their performance in Beijing. The team finished fourth in the medal rankings in 2008 – accumulating 19 golds, 13 silvers and 15 bronzes.
“We did unbelievable in Beijing, but I think we’re going to do better here in London. We’re all at home and we’ve got the whole country behind us. We’ve invested a lot of money and our athletes are well prepared. I don’t see any reason for us not to do at least as well as we did in Beijing, and hopefully better.”
Having also reached the pinnacle of his sport in the world, European and Commonwealth Games, Thompson offered some simple advice for young people wanting to follow in his footsteps.
“If you’re going to get properly coached, get properly coached. The best place to learn the sport will be at the local athletics club because they’re take you to whatever level you can get to and you will then go somewhere else to take you on to the next level.”
Daley Thompson was talking to Podium’s Stuart Appleby at a BT Art of Sport Exhibition – inspired by the drama and spectacle of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games on Monday 25th June at Clarendon Fine Art in London.
Images courtesy of Chris Searle’s Photography.