Team GB’s Tokyo heroes may have only just returned from Japan, but they are already setting their sights on inspiring the country to stay fit following the Covid-19 lockdowns.
I Am Team GB’s Festival of Sport is an event which is using the success of Britain’s Olympians to inspire the public to get active and stay fit.
Medallists such as relay champion swimmer James Guy and weightlifting hero Emily Campbell were at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the site of Britain’s triumphant home Games in 2012, as part of the nationwide event.
Weightlifting silver-medallist Campbell beat expectations to bring her sport to national attention and now has turned her attention to inspiring others to take up sport, whether they are destined for Olympic glory or just to keep active.
Campbell said that leaving a legacy of participation “would be another reason that I am in the sport”.
She added: “Obviously you want to be successful and to win medals but for me it’s about inspiring the next generation and getting them finding whatever sport they want.
“I found my sport by just trying things out and I think that’s really important that young people know it’s okay to try things out and if it doesn’t work out you just move on to the next.
She said that weightlifting is “not a very popular sport in the UK and not many people know how to access it”.
“That’s definitely going to be my job now to promote because you can start weightlifting from when you’re between five and seven years old,” she added.
James Guy, who took home two golds and a silver in the pool at Tokyo 2020, was keen to stress that the event was about showing supporters are as much a part of Team GB as the athletes themselves.
Guy said: “It’s about inspiring the next generation. I know that’s gonna be said quite a lot but it generally is.
“That’s why we’re here today making people feel that they are part of Team GB, which they are. One country or one team, we’re all in it together.
“I’m sure the kids were screaming at the TV thinking ‘I want that when I get older’.”
Similar events will take place in Cardiff, Manchester and at the University of Hull – as well as one in Sunderland at the city’s Stadium of Light on Sunday.
The free London event started with a “lap of honour” around the stadium.
Activities included rowing, cycling, skateboarding and weightlifting at the park’s event village.
This is the second time the event has taken place, with more than a million people reportedly taking part in the I Am Team GB event following the Rio 2016 Olympics.