Sport at the highest level will always, by its nature, be characterised by competition and rivalry; between athletes on the field of play and in the training environment, between nations bidding to host international sport’s most prestigious events, between passionate sports administrators seeking to promote their vision of how sport should be organised, and even between sports themselves who are seeking to enhance their position and popularity across the international sporting community. Much of this competition and rivalry has been at the fore at the 11th annual SportAccord convention, which took place this week in the beautiful city of St Petersburg in Russia, providing a key opportunity to bring world sport together to make big decisions about the future.
However, it also struck me at this year's SportAccord, amidst meetings with many international federations, that despite this highly competitive environment, everyone there has a common focus, which is to create partnerships across nations that allow us all to move sport forward. I believe, following the success of London 2012, the UK is in a better position support this aim than ever before.
The UK takes its commitment to playing a full role within the international sporting system incredibly seriously. We have been fortunate at UK Sport, through sustained support and investment from our Government and National Lottery, to have been able to transform our high performance system and help our athletes reach new heights of international achievement over the past 16 years, as evidenced by their performances at London 2012. Complacency is not an option for us, and we are just as determined to deliver great performances at Sochi, Rio and beyond as we were for our home Games. However whilst our commitment domestically to our athletes' success is unrelenting, we are also a nation that cares passionately about international sport at all levels.
London 2012 confirmed for me how far the UK has come in its ability to work within the international sporting community, and how ready the British public are to embrace these big international sporting moments. We clearly have an incredible stock of sporting venues in the UK, coupled with a skilled and experienced workforce, but these are things that any nation can develop with enough resources. What we have developed is a passion for sport – international events hosted in the UK have heart and soul, and this is the real gift that hosting an Olympic and Paralympic Games gives to a country. Through our Gold Event Series, the UK's major events legacy programme, we hope to create a stage to inspire; we understand that international federations are entrusting us with their “Crown Jewels” and we want to ensure that the UK provides the perfect platform for each sport to best showcase itself to the world.
I think this year’s SportAccord demonstrated, with significant representation from British companies, government and sports bodies, that the UK is embracing its obligation to ensure post-London that our sporting offer remains competitive and modern, engaging and inspiring. The experience gained through London 2012, and in preparing for Glasgow 2014 next year, has given us the platform to become a more outward facing nation in sporting terms, looking to support and deliver sport around the world, as well as to benefit our own society.
Simon Morton is Director of Major Events and International Relations at UK Sport. For more information on UK Sport’s aim to bring 70 major sporting events to the UK by 2019 through its Gold Event Series, visit www.uksport.gov.uk/events