Lighting spectacular marks Olympics countdown

Legendary Olympian Ed Moses talks to The Birmingham Press during an event to mark the city’s part in London 2012.

BHX Olympic ringsBirmingham’s part in a successful London 2012 Olympics moved a step closer on Monday evening with the lighting of an illuminated Olympic Rings installation at Birmingham Airport. The two sets of rings, placed either side of their new Air Traffic Control Tower, will be observed by not only visitors flying into the city, but also travellers on the main A45 Birmingham-Coventry road. They are the first installation of this type in any British airport and officials are confident they will also boost their profile on the international stage.

The rings were launched at a special event attended by Paralympic gold medallist Lee Pearson and legendary athlete Dr Ed Moses as well as local participants in the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad Dance Sansaar and members of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Dr Moses, who won gold in the 400 metre hurdles at the 1976 and 1984 Games, later spoke of the part Birmingham will be playing in the London event, when the city will host the training camps of  the USA and Jamaican track & field teams prior to the Games’ opening. “I was an athletes’ representative on the IOC Athletes Co-ordination Commission. My job was to go out six years ago when London got the Games and follow up all the issues that are important to athletes. And so I’ve been following the process of how the Games will be put on and I’m completely satisfied that everything’s going to be great, that the facilities and organisation is going to be top of the line, as good as any Olympic games ever. It’s going to be a great Games, an event for the whole country.”

As for Birmingham’s contribution, the former double Olympic and World champion was equally confident. “I haven’t seen the facilities, but I’m sure they’re going to be top-notch.  You have the powerhouses of track and field coming here and everything will be up to standard. I’m confident Birmingham will be able to make sure that the USA and Jamaican teams will perform to the best of their abilities. Birmingham will be a great help to them – the training facilities, food, where they’re staying, the environment, the quietness and the proximity to London. There will have been years of research to make sure the athletes come to the best place they can.

“The training camp will be more important than the games themselves. If you don’t get it right in training, nothing can happen, no magic will make it right in London.”

CEO of Birmingham Airport, Paul Kehoe, echoed Dr Moses’ sentiments. He told us, “We are pleased to welcome such a legendary figure to this event, and also delighted to be playing a part in London 2012 with the rings on show on our brand new control tower.  The Olympic Games are for the whole country, not just London. Every visitor to the airport and passer-by will see this spectacular welcome and realise that we are proud to be a part of such a historic occasion. It’s helping to raise up a notch the excitement about the Games.”

Of the airport’s plans for the summer, he added, “We’re not intending to be particularly busy because of the Games, but we will be ready should the need arise. We’re the first airport outside the Games control area, so should there be any issues with flying we will be able to handle extra passengers. We’re expecting to have a busy summer in any case, and I think that the Olympics and the Queen’s jubilee will lift us all up. It’s been a pretty miserable few years and this will enable us all to have some fun and raise the hopes of the country. We also hope that this will show the government how Birmingham airport should be included in any national air infrastructure.”