Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park - what is the legacy?
'What is the Queen's legacy in sport?'
Olivia Tomlinson | 17 June 2016

Her Majesty’s recent visit to the school has given us a lot to look back on, something for us to remember, a legacy for Berkhamsted. The word ‘legacy’ has been said many times, and none more so than during the Olympic Games, much of which took place in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The question Olympic Organisers had to ask was, “what will be the legacy of the Games and who will benefit from it?”.

One of the most memorable sights of the 2012 Games was of course the spectacular Olympic Stadium. This magnificent arena, with its spiked rim and enormous floodlights, will be hosting both football and athletics events in the coming years. The iconic venue will be home to West Ham United FC, football fans will be pleased to hear. Their new home can hold 60,000 people, an increase on the 35,000 seats at their current residence at the Boleyn Ground in Upton Park. The pitch size will be equivalent to Wembley Stadium or Old Trafford.

The Stadium will keep its running track protected by 7.5m of recycled concrete; the very track where household names like Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah raced. That hallowed turf where they won Gold medals for Great Britain on the most super of Saturdays. The track will be used for the London Anniversary Games each year, that will see the return of Olympic athletes such as Usain Bolt, and Paralympic athletes like our very own Hannah Cockroft. A new community athletics track has also been built alongside the stadium that will be available for the local community and athletics clubs. This will be a flood-lit, 8-lane track where youngsters can begin their journey to being international stars.

The park is also home to the Aquatics Centre, where the likes of Tom Daley plunged into the crystal clear waters during the 2012 Olympic Games. The centre accommodates two 50m swimming pools and a 25m diving pool containing a total of 10 million litres of water. The Aquatics Centre is now open to the public, for families as well as serious swimmers. It accommodates all ages and abilities. Our very own Berkhamsted Swimming Team had the opportunity to swim there as part of the Bath and Otters Cup in April this year.

‘The Pringle’, as it is affectionately known, is the curved Velodrome where the Olympic Indoor Cycling took place. Here, Bradley Wiggins and Sir Chris Hoy as well as Victoria Pendleton all won medals zooming around the track at high speeds. The VeloPark consists of the indoor arena as well as a BMX track, road circuit and mountain bike trail. Designed to cater for the UK’s growing interest in cycling, particularly in schools, it encourages kids to take up the sport through a ‘pay and ride’ scheme for casual visitors.

The Lee Valley Olympic Hockey and Tennis Centre may be less well known, as it was built after the Games. The Olympic Hockey was played on a temporary pitch in the vibrant colours of blue and pink where our women won a bronze medal. The new pitch is water-based with hockey players coming from all over the UK to compete.

Do visit the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where such incredible memories were made, and see the very clear legacy left behind. Whether it be a stroll along the winding paths, participating in a sporting activity or intensely watching the Anniversary Games, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Original Image by Olivia Tomlinson

James Routledge 2016