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London 2012 on the road in Liverpool

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Eleanor Oldroyd Eleanor Oldroyd | 09:38 UK time, Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Without a doubt, the greatest privilege of my working life has been to report for the BBC from the last five summer Olympic Games.

Barcelona, Atlanta, Sydney, Athens and Beijing have all given me memories I will treasure for ever, but, if I've got one tiny regret about my times there, it's this.

I wasn't at home to share them with everyone in the UK.

When friends talk about waiting up till the early hours of the morning to watch Steve Redgrave (now Sir Steve) win his fifth gold on BBC TV (while listening to BBC Radio 5 live's commentary, of course), I actually envy them. I was in Sydney, in a half-empty cafe close to Bondi Beach, but it was mid-morning and the few Aussies around me were bemused by the lone Brit leaping around on her own.

I can only imagine the joy back at home when Kelly Holmes won her second gold in Athens. The Greek taverna where I was having my tenth souvlaki of the week was distinctly underwhelmed.

The organisers of London 2012 want to send out a message that these are Games for the whole of the UK.

The interactive map on their website is dotted with flags from Glasgow to Cardiff, from Belfast to Brighton.

Some are sporting, some are cultural. The vast majority are in London of course, centred on the Olympic Park. Then there are the main venues away from the capital, Weymouth and Portland for the sailing, Eton Dorney for the rowing, the mountain bike course at Hadleigh Park in Essex, the Lee Valley White Water Centre, and the football grounds - Hampden Park, Old Trafford, the Millennium Stadium, St James' Park and the City of Coventry Stadium.

But look further afield and you'll find street football in Daventry, a celebration of Olympic and Paralympic sports in Fazakerley in Liverpool, and news that the Malawi Olympic team will have their training base at the University of Gloucestershire.

This Thursday we'll be taking our regular 5 live London Calling programme on the road, to see whether sports fans in the north west are buying into the Olympic spirit, with fewer than 500 days to go.

Joining me at the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool will be Olympic bronze medal-winning high jumper Steve Smith, Michael Rimmer, who won European silver in the 800 metres last year, and young track cyclist Becky James, a double Commonwealth medallist from Delhi.

Steve and Michael will be sharing their experiences of Atlanta and Beijing, and Michael and Becky will fill us in on their preparations for next year in London.

Michael Rimmer with his 800m silver medal from the 2010 European Athletics Championships

Southport-born Michael Rimmer will carry some local Merseyside hopes for 2012. Picture: Getty Images

We'll be hearing about the Olympic stars and great moments which have inspired them in the past. And Rob Young, who's the London 2012 co-ordinator for the north west, will be telling us about the local companies who've won contracts linked to the Games.

We'll also find out why one of the most star-studded Olympic teams, the Australian swimmers, have chosen to base themselves in Manchester before competition begins.

It's a week when the eyes of Liverpool turn to Aintree and one of the highlights of the year, the Grand National. Scousers are as passionate about their sport as anyone in the country and I'm looking forward to hearing what London 2012 means to them - and whether they'll be throwing extra support behind Liverpool's Olympic stars, like Michael Rimmer, gymnast Beth Tweddle and boxer Natasha Jones.

But I'm sure our guests will have to win over some sceptics, too.

Whenever we do a phone in on 5 live about the Olympics, there are a few callers who'll tell us that they're indifferent, or even angry, about the Games coming to Britain.

They claim that it's yet another example of London getting everything, that their part of the country will receive no benefit from the Games, and that they've no intention of paying out for travel, tickets and hotel rooms.

But I hope there'll be plenty in the audience who'll be planning to be part of what, for most of us, is a once in a lifetime experience.

Wherever I've been on my Olympic travels - Beijing, Sydney, Atlanta - I've seen Brits wandering around draped in the Union flag.

I believe that in this country, and all over the country, we celebrate sport better than anywhere else in the world. And that's one of the reasons why I can't wait for the Olympics to come home.

Eleanor and her guests will be broadcasting live from the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool from 1900-2100 BST on Thursday on BBC Radio 5 live. Details are how to get tickets can be found at


  • Comment number 1.


    I for one want to hear about the journey of our athletes and our youngsters should understand what it takes to represent your country as we hope they will be inspired.

    As for the sceptics I believe that it should not be the duty of the BBC to bang the Olympic drum some people will be more worried about whether their TV soap will be affected or wish to be as far away as possible from the Olympic bubble.

    Also I know what you mean but the home of the Olympics is Athens, Greece others will see this as OTT. A reason the World Cup football did not 'come home'.

  • Comment number 2.

    Eleanor, sports fans in the North West are not buying into the London Olympics because the vast majority cannot afford to. With an absurd and elitist ticketing policy is it any wonder that Pedigree Chum is one of the Olympic sponsors. Priced a number of hotels during the games and the cheapest was £225 per room per night. As regards attempting to hype up interest (outside London) in our £10.5 billion pound games it is a blatant waste of the license fee budget.

  • Comment number 3.

    I am really sorry that your all expenses public funded trips to the last 5 olympics have been a disappointment to you in terms of missing your friends, the rest of us didn't have a choice. I think this was an incredibly ill judged start to your piece.

    I do hope all the GB team do very well in 2012 and I hope home advantage brings extra medals and incentive. I will also look forward to the BBC coverage of the events as it is usually top notch. I can not argue over public money put into the games as I do not know the figures, where it came from and how much it has helped the economy re jobs created etc.

    However on a personal note and probably true for the majority of the population in the same situation as me.
    This olympics is a none event, to be watched on TV like any other foreign olympic games, for those of us living in the north of england earning a modest living in a recession. I priced the cost of 1 day in the olympic stadium for myself and my 2 boys as close to £1500! and thats if I managed to get the cheap tickets, cheap hotels (based on todays prices) and cheap train tickets. That doesn't include food and souvenirs or any other expense.
    It is as far and as costly from the north east to the other event centres as makes no difference so I am left with a couple of games of football which will be of a lesser quality to what I could go and see every week in the premiership.
    So tell me again how is this a games for the whole of the UK and how it is a once in a life time opportunity because I just don't understand the logic.

  • Comment number 4.

    "Without a doubt, the greatest privilege of my working life has been to report for the BBC from the last five summer Olympic Games." I didn't get the impression that Eleanor was moaning about previous Olympic expeiriances.

    Unfortunately, attending the 2012 Olympics will not be financially or logistically viable for everyone in the country. However i don't agree with the assumption that the Olympics will be a "non event" for "the majority of the population". Sport can act act as a comforting escape from everyday anxieties, and I am of the opinion that the 2012 Games will install a great sense of national pride like previous Olympics have done. All Olympic Games are primarily located in 1 city, but there are some events located outside of London, so i don't agree that these games are only for the people of London.

    Also i think a lot of people will see this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend an Olympic Games event and will push the boat out to attend.

  • Comment number 5.

    I stand by my comments based not on the first paragraph but on the following few paragraphs

    I imagine she realises she is incredibly priveliged to be at these places I just don't think that this was the best place to moan about being at bondi beach whilst being paid for it because she missed the atmosphere.

    I agree that non event was probably not the phrase I wanted to get accross, the olympics is a huge event no matter were they take place, I was trying to get accross that this olympics will be no different to any other because the majority of people in the UK will not get to see it live because of cost and distance.

    This is the case for the majority of people in the UK, it does not mean I am attacking the ethos of the games, I will still watch on the TV and enjoy every minute.

    The point is that the majority of venues are in the south of the country (not only London) and that makes it more unaffordable in terms of travel and expense. I also think the ticket prices are expensive and the ones that are affordable are far to few in number.

    I do not agree that people will jusity spending upto £2000 (perhaps more) for a day at the olympic stadium in the current economic climate. I wish I could.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hi all,

    Elly has asked us to post this reponse to your comments so far:

    Thanks for your comments - Monkeymagic, I'd just like to put the record straight - as I said in my first paragraph, I consider myself incredibly lucky to have been to 5 Olympics, and absolutely wasn't moaning about being on Bondi Beach, just wishing I could have been on two sides of the world at once and shared the joy of people at home as they watched it, too! Because my Olympic experiences have been so intense and amazing, I would really love as many people living in Britain to enjoy them too, and this is the closest it will be in most of our lifetimes. I wouldn't dream of advising people how to spend their incredibly hard earned cash, especially when times are so tight, but you don't have to be in tne Stadium for an athletics finals session to get the Olympic experience - there are lots of other events on the Olympic Park at much cheaper prices - hockey, waterpolo for example - or try weightlifting, judo, handball, archery, something you've never seen before - you'll be watching sport played at the very highest level possible. Oh, and a quick one to hainba (#1), when I talked about the Olympics "coming home", I meant my home i.e. the UK - although some will argue that Much Wenlock in Shropshire (the county where I grew up) is in some ways the true home of the modern Olympics!

  • Comment number 7.


    Thanks for the response I'm playing devils advocate here and believe that the BBC should avoid falling into the same trap as the FA and thinking they can convert everyone to the Olympic dream.

    For those interested this should be a journey following individual competitors, teams or countries you may have a link to - there are stories to be told not least the reporters behind the scenes. I'm sure it will be surreal...

  • Comment number 8.

    Have to say that London 2012 logo is a total embarrassment and no wonder it has been likened to a poorly drawn swastika.


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