Francis Maude: There is so much to look forward to

The Closing Ceremony was a fitting celebration of the Olympics, Britain’s medal haul and our ability to stage a wonderful Games. We should be proud of what’s taken place over the last two weeks or so.

There may be more than a few people feeling a bit flat right now but the post-Games blues should be banished, as there is so much to look forward to, not least, the Paralympics and the development of the Olympic legacy. The latter is, to many, the most important aspect of hosting the Olympics. The Paralympics were a key legacy of the last London Olympics in 1948.

Starting on the 29th of this month, London will be hosting the biggest ever Paralympic Games, with 4,200 athletes from 150 nations competing in 471 events over 11 days. It’s going to be a great competition!

Beyond this summer’s festivities, we’ll be focusing on legacy-building. Lord – Sebastian – Coe has just been appointed the Government’s Olympic legacy ambassador. He’ll advise on how to go about meeting our target of a £13bn economic benefit from the Games.

As part of that he’ll act as a roving global ambassador to help win new trade and investment deals. His four main areas of focus will be economic, sporting, volunteering and regeneration and I’m delighted that the new Olympics Legacy unit will be in my own department, the Cabinet Office. I’m looking forward to seeing Seb progressing with this most important post-Olympic mission.

David Cameron also recently announced that UK Sport will receive around £125m a year until the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Not only does this provide security for the various sporting governing bodies but it will help inspire the next generation of British Olympic medal-winners.

As volunteering has been such a strong theme of the Games, funded British athletes will be asked to offer up to five days a year of their time to work with school children, hopefully inspiring them to take up a sport themselves.

Added to that, we have just announced changes to the primary school PE curriculum which will be published in draft form in the autumn.

Closer to home, I’m hoping that Horsham people will take part in the ‘Join In’ weekend that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago – the perfect opportunity to learn about a new sport or become a volunteer for a local sports club.

More information can be found at: joininuk.org.

I hope readers will be inspired by London 2012!