From supporting the Legacy of the 2012 Olympics, to playing my part in the 2016 Paralympics

August 18, 2016
By John Timms, Director of Events and Project Management at MLS
From supporting the Legacy of the 2012 Olympics, to playing my part in the 2016 Paralympics
With Olympic fever sweeping the nation and the Parlympics beginning a week today, it's an exciting time for everyone involved in the Olympic Legacy Park (OLP). In my role as Director at the sport and leisure consultancy, MLS, and also in my role as European Competition Manager at the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF), this is a particularly exciting time for me personally, too.

The Olympics and Paralympics celebrate the very best sporting talent from all over the world, and the team and I at MLS eagerly watched the Rio events proud in the knowledge that, through the OLP, we’re supporting the lasting Legacy from London 2012 as well as the next generation of sporting heroes.

We’ll be moving to the Park Community Arena on the OLP when the building work is complete, and our new home there will place our business at the heart of the action in what is set to be an internationally recognised Innovation District for health and wellbeing research and learning. 

The OLP will be home to current Olympian and Paralympian champions as well as those of the future, and will also cater for elite athletes, sports teams and clubs offering the local community and the people of Sheffield a world-class environment in which to improve their health and wellbeing.

The £3.5 million Arena will be a flexible venue, home to BBL Play-off champions the DBL Sharks Sheffield, as well as hosting students from the Oasis Academy and UTC Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park during the day, and the local community in the evenings and at weekends.  We will also be able to cater for disability sports and we’re hopeful it will house the Wheelchair Rugby team. This demonstrates just how flexible the venue will be and, in my IWRF role, makes me even prouder to be a part of the OLP.

We had the chance to demonstrate this inclusive approach recently when, through the IWRF, I had the opportunity to play a part in the 2016 Paralympics by leading the draw for the Wheelchair Rugby.
With the competition beginning on 14 September, the Wheelchair Rugby will feature eight nations: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Great Britain, Japan, Sweden and the United States.

We arranged for the draw to be live streamed by a group of media students and apprentices from a new television studio at the Hillsborough Campus of Sheffield College. This gave the students a chance to use a global sporting event to test their technical skills.

The event was streamed from the college simultaneously to officials in Brazil and Canada, so the draw could be internationally verified. Representatives from the Rio Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (ROCOG) also took part via a Skype link.

Leading the draw alongside Uriah Rennie, a former Premier League football referee from Sheffield, was a real privilege, and the IWRF President, John Bishop, thanked the students for providing the live global streaming for the draw.

It was fantastic to collaborate with some of Sheffield’s bright young brains to play our part in such a significant global sporting event. This, for me, was a great example of how sport has the power to bring people together from different backgrounds and with different skills.

The OLP is another shining example of this kind of inclusive and collaborative working, and the last few weeks – whilst witnessing the highlights of Rio and getting involved in the Wheelchair Rugby draw – I have been particularly inspired and feeling ever more excited to move into our new home in the Park Community Arena.