Five Olympic legends boasting 19 gold medals between them have used the Laureus World Sports Awards to pass a unanimous vote of confidence in London hosting a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Edwin Moses, Laureus Academy Chairman and one of the most dominant athletes of his generation, hosted a special star-studded Olympic press conference ahead of the Laureus World Sports Awards – to be held amid the majestic splendour of Westminster’s Central Hall tomorrow night – and said of the Summer Games: “The atmosphere will be unique.
“I have seen London’s Olympic venues and they are fantastic. Some of the most impressive and beautiful features are going to be the trees and parks there. When I visited the site there was one particular area where there were wild flowers growing on a hillside. It is going to be very spectacular.”
Sergey Bubka, the greatest pole-vaulter in history, said: “It is a great honour to be in London for the Laureus World Sports Awards prior to the 2012 Olympic Games. It will be a unique Olympiad, the first time one city has hosted three Olympic Games.
“It will be a great and historic moment for London, and there will be an unbelievable legacy afterwards. The venues will provide a unique chance for the people of London to bring their kids and do sports. That will have a fantastic impact.”
Bubka, a Laureus Academy Member who is also President of the National Olympic Committee of the Ukraine, believes the ethos behind the Laureus World Sports Awards is a perfect fit with the Olympics. He said: “The Games are all about medals, of course, but I believe their main value is to celebrate humanity. It is about the importance of sport, to give passion to the younger generation, to engage them.”
Swimming great Mark Spitz, also a Laureus Academy Member who in 1972 became the first athlete to win seven gold medals at one Olympiad, said: “By and large the Olympic Games is a coming together of the world to compete in friendly competition. “It is always fun to watch what the results are in all the sports. I’m just jealous I never had the chance to compete in an Olympic Games in London.”
Laureus Academy Member Nadia Comaneci, the most celebrated gymnast of our time, said: “I’m very happy that we can stage the Laureus World Sports Awards in London because it is a great pre-Olympic start for what is going to happen in the summer. “London is the place to be when the Olympics are happening. You have to be there, whether you are a competitor, a parent or a supporter.”
Double Olympic decathlon gold medallist Daley Thompson, completing the panel of Laureus Academy Members, revealed he cannot wait for the world to come to Great Britain. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to show people how well we can do things, it will be a fantastic Games,” he said.
“I’m just glad that we have the chance to show our country off. We put on big events really well, and no event is bigger than the Olympic Games.”