Great Britain has been predicted to win 27 Gold's at the 2012 Olympics. Hopefully the British Athletes will enjoy their best Olympics for more than a century and challenge for third in the medal table in London. The elite-sport funding agency UK Sport has said Team GB is on course to equal the fourth place achieved in Beijing, arguing that it is only right to account for the public money that has been poured into high performance sport in the UK over recent years.
The Olympics is a series of wonderful events that happens every four years and is a tribute to the human spirit- the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat -where athletes from all over the world congregate in one location. They compete against the best in the world to see who is the best in the world.
Linford Christie once said champions are not made they are born, what I think Linford meant was you are either born with the genetic make up to run fast or your not going to be sprinting anywhere. But for me a champion is someone who recognises their God given talents, they work their backsides off perfecting their talents into skills and then use these skills to achieve their goals. These people are at the top of their field, doing sports at the highest level. They've worked for years, dedicating much of their lives to perfecting their skills in a particular area.
As a former international athlete for Wales, I am really looking forward to London hosting the Olympics. With their final gruelling winter preparations behind them, and the long, hard, cold months in the wind and rain of nothing but seemingly ceaseless training well behind them. The summer is upon them, as some of them will make history and set personal best whilst others will go away disappointed and begin the preparation all over again for the following four years. For some it will be their last shot at Glory and for others it will be that their Olympic dream will still remain... It makes you stop and wonder what is a Champion?
When they line up next to their competitors, or position themselves in their blocks, they will all be thinking pretty much the same thing. I suppose you could say they will be making the most arrogant statement of their lives "I am the best in the world and I am here to prove it". When that starters gun goes they will all follow that slender pathway as they chase their destiny.
They will all have undergone vigorous training schedules, diets that us mere mortals would never understand, they've sacrificed nights out with their pals to cram in one more training session, and while most of us will have been having a lay in on a Sunday morning they will be out at the crack of dawn breaking into a sweat.
Somalian Mo Farah who is the best in the world right now, will be ready to make history when he goes for the double gold in his British vest in the 5,000m and 10,000m. I remember Mo doing his first ever International Cross Country race in Durham representing England, I knew then I was watching a future star. I had the pleasure of swapping International pin brouches with him. Ten years later I've still got it.
Islington born Dwain Chambers in my eyes is someone who is not only a role model to our younger generation he is a Champion in his own right. In 2003 Dwain, who I have had the pleasure of meeting on many occasions failed a drugs test for the performance enhancing drug THG.
He did the crime and took his time like a man. He went away and played American Football, with some success. He came back to athletics clean, he apologised to his Nation and team mates for letting them down. This year he is going to once again pull on that British vest for his Country. That to me is someone with real drive and ambition and someone who our younger kids can look up to. We've all made mistakes, granted not so publicly as Dwain. What is important is that it does n't matter if you make a mistake the important thing is that you learn from it and he has done, and he has come back the better person. I last bumped into Dwain in a restaurant in Camden Town, he was having dinner with Christian Malcom. I went over to say hello and said "I read your book, well done you, and we always cheer for you when we see you on the tv", as Christian said "what about me"? Yup you too Christian!
Jessica Ennis the 26-year-old heptathlete will attempt to win a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics. She will need to beat her own British record to win gold. Jessica is near in age to me, she is made of very different stuff to most girls, a real work horse!
These guys are representing our country because they are the best we have. As disheartened as we will all be if we don't see Mo crossing the line first 'doing the Mo', or if our 4x100m boys drop the baton again as they did on the weekend at the European's. They are there because they are the current British champions. When we watch these beautiful performances, something will happen inside us. It's not just the beauty of the mechanics of the sport instead, we will realise these are human beings producing beauty out of the depth of their humanness, in the best sense of that term. Whether we watch these performances in the stadium, The Hawley Arms, the back garden or The Angel Estate in Brixton, one thing we will all have in common is we will be cheering Great Britain.
After the last athlete crosses the line and last anthem has been sung, and as the athletes head off on a months break before they prepare to start another gruelling winter of training for next years World Championships. I hope thousands of British children and Londoners all become inspired by the Games. Maybe 2012 will be the start of a new era where youngsters who are already involved in a life of crime or feel there is no way off their estate, all pinch a Boris bike and start training, who knows who the next champion will be in four years.
A champion is someone who sets out to be the best they can. These athletes through courage, sheer grit, determination, mind set and hard work have all earned the right to wave our Nation's flag. That's one of the greatest honours an athlete can ever have. That's what the Olympics are all about. To even earn that honour I think that makes them champions.