As an ex-teacher and parent, I have been saddened to hear that a large number of young people today have no ambition or lack self-confidence, as reported by their own parents and school teachers. As an Olympic gold medalist, I know that a way to gain ambition and confidence is to set yourself challenging goals.
On Sunday the world of professional squash just about came to a standstill. Never has one decision seemed to matter so much, nor has any one decision threatened to have greater impact. If squash were to secure a place in the Olympic Games the possibilities looked endless, whereas failure may or may not point to stagnation...
There is absolutely nothing like someone criticising the British to bring the British together. Remember just before the Olympics last year, when we were all still convinced it was going to be a total flop, and then US presidential candidate Mitt Romney came over, essentially said the same thing, and, well, we all went a little nuts? Fast forward a year and a bit, and with Cameron licking his wounds over his Syria Commons defeat, one of Vladimir Putin's senior aides steps in with a nicely timed insult, and we're lining up behind the PM to defend our glorious nation.
I don't want to claim that community sports aren't facing real difficulties with regard to funding and keeping local facilities open, but it is worth publicising those events where local people are continuing to get involved in mass participation events, despite all the controversial funding issues. These events are also showing even the most cynical of commentators, that even after the lucrative advertising opportunities that the Olympics created have disappeared, corporate business and sponsors are still putting effort and resources into getting communities and young people interested in sport.
Did we call for Delhi to be stripped of the Commonwealth Games because of the rising number of acid attacks in India? Do we refuse to play Pakistan in cricket because of honour killings? China hosted the Olympics despite having at best a chequered human rights record. The truth is that sporting boycotts and bans do not work.
year on from the London Games there's much talk about the legacy of 2012. If you visit Beijing you'll be able to take advantage of the infrastructural improvements made ahead of the Games. The city's public transport system underwent major modernisation and expansion ahead of 2008 Games, in order to cope with up to 19 million passengers a day.
The phrase 'Olympic legacy' has been reverberating around the ears of every British citizen, and by now it is beginning to make a bit of a racket. And as we arrive at the one year anniversary of what was an awe-inspiring event and survey the scene, everyday inhabitants of this fantastic island are forced to question the reality of said legacy.
Some good public sector building blocks are already in place. For instance, the Government is in the midst of its biggest ever international marketing campaign, with some private sector support, to secure sustained increases in trade, inward investment, tourism and foreign students. But, more is needed to maximise long-term economic and reputational legacy.
July 2013 is most likely to go down in history as the month the heir to the throne was born (it can't be that much longer, can it?), but this week delivered plenty of other reasons to pop the champagne corks. Whether it was England's cricketers keeping the Aussies in check at Lords, the glorious weather continuing to toast the country from top to toe, or the historical moment when gay marriage finally became legal, cracking a smile hasn't been difficult these past seven days.