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Olympics: One year to go - and I just can't wait!
I'M so excited and I just can't hide it - Just one year to go now until the Olympics get under way in London.
Many of my friends and colleagues would be able to confirm my excitement as I have done nothing but talk about the Olympics for around two years (barring a six month spell when I was training for the London Marathon), but now we are really in the final stages of preparations.
From today, Wednesday, the eyes of not only the UK will be on London 2012, but also the world as everyone enters the final furlong on a long road to 2012.
For me though the excitement started to build when London was announced as the host city back in Singapore on July 6, 2005.
I have been an avid supporter of the Olympics from a young age and even missed three weeks of school in 2000 when I coincidentally dislocated my knee the day before the Sydney Games began.
Watching the Games over the years I have followed the highs of stars Dame Kelly Holmes, Sir Steve Redgrave and Rebecca Adlington, and the lows of Paula Radcliffe coming fourth twice and dropped batons in the relays.
And 18 months ago I listened intently to Alison Mowbray's evocative speech at the Cumbria Sports Awards of her battle to Olympic silver in rowing, which underlined for me just how inspiring all of the athletes are.
The Olympics coming to our country is generally a once in a lifetime experience and I have been planning to make the most of it since 2005.
I have applied to be a Games Maker volunteer and am told I have been nominated to be a torch bearer next summer.
I am delighted at the thought of seeing the torch pass through Cumbria and the UK, giving me a glimpse of sporting and cultural history, while I have also been lucky enough to secure two judo tickets and will have my moment of glory just by being there.
With the world's media now stepping up its focus on the country, I believe we all have a brilliant chance to market ourselves internationally.
The comments I have received in conversations with representatives of the London Organising Committee suggests that Cumbria is at the forefront of the cultural benefits to the Games through Lakes Alive, while the North West Development Agency and the Cumbria Steering Group have been influential in securing two overnight stops in the county for the torch relay - in Carlisle and Bowness.
I for one cannot wait to go to Bowness and see the torch pass through, but I also had the delight on Saturday night of going to Whitehaven to see the Olympic-inspired Lakes Alive event to mark one year to go - when Transe Express wowed the audience with a stirring hour-long performance, which concluded with a fireworks display from pa-Boom.
The night really hit home how the area can benefit and I hope that all those people who still believe the Olympics are in London and have nothing to do with Cumbria can come on board and get behind the Games.
Britain will become the first country to host the Olympics three times, but on both previous occasions - in 1908 and 1948 - we were awarded the Games by default, suggesting we may have a long wait before they come back.
I just hope that the country and especially Cumbrian people can get behind the Games in the coming 365 days because this is going to be the biggest sporting spectacle to grace the country since the 1966 World Cup.
I know there are doubters out there who believe the Olympics will be detrimental to everyone outside of London.
But Inspire mark projects and Get Set initiatives working throughout the county and an uptake in minor sports which don't receive much publicity outside the Games show that we have a legacy to be proud of which will remain long after the Olympics and I think we have a lot to celebrate.
This month Kendal Dojo welcomed a group of boxers from Nauru, the world's smallest island nation, and the four lads are hoping that sleepy Kendal can boost their hopes of reaching the Olympics.
If these four people, who live on an island just 21 square km in area, which is 300km from its nearest island, can see the benefits of the Olympics in Cumbria, I fail to see why the people living on its doorstep don't.
I understand there have been many cutbacks through the funding of the Olympics and sympathise with groups which may struggle as a result, while businesses also have concerns for tourism around the Olympics, but come July 27, 2012, I know where my eyes, and more than likely the eyes of the world, will be.
Those people who want the London Games to fail and who criticise will still tune in and hopefully, we can overturn that cynicism and celebrate in unity a fantastic event the entire country can and should be proud of.
Only 365 days to go! And with each one ticked off, I am sure my excitement will only build.
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