One year from now, my home town of London will welcome 25,000 athletes and officials from around the world, along with hundreds of thousands of fans, for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. London will be the first city to host the modern Olympics three times, after hosting in 1908 and 1948.
Britain's Olympic history was quick off the block, with Launceston Elliott winning Britain a gold medal at the very first modern Games in 1896, and has kept up the pace ever since -- our athletes have won a gold medal at every Summer Games. Our lineage of female Olympic champions started early as well, as Charlotte Cooper won the women's tennis singles at the second modern Games in 1900. In recent years, British Olympians have ruled the waves: two of our greatest champions were rowers Sir Matthew Pinsent and Sir Steven Redgrave, who won nine gold medals combined at six consecutive Games, and Sir Ben Ainslie sailed to a golden finish three times in the last three Games.
The 2012 Games will show off the best of Britain's proud sporting culture. Tennis players will serve and volley at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, most recognisable as the annual home of Wimbledon. Triathletes will run, swim, and bicycle their way through our Royal Hyde Park. Footballers will take to the pitch at some of Britain's most hallowed grounds, including Old Trafford, St. James' Park, and the new Wembley Stadium. And equestrian events will take place near my home in Greenwich Park, through which runs the Prime Meridian.
And as much as London 2012 will celebrate Britain's past, it will also highlight Britain's present and future. Visitors from all corners of the world can dive headfirst into the vibrant, international flavour of life in London; organisers of the 2012 Games estimate that London is home to 100 ethnic groups who could each turn out 50,000 supporters for teams from their country of origin. They will dash swiftly between events, thanks to impressive transport infrastructure, even more so today thanks to expansions undertaken by the government and Olympic organisers. And the construction projects have all been designed to reduce waste and pollution, pushing the ball forward on making London 2012 the greenest Games ever.
The UK is committed to building a lasting legacy from the Games, laying a foundation of growth and opportunity for our young people that will reach far beyond the 28 days of competition next summer.
The long-term impact of the Games will be most visible in East London. Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Olympic Park, high-tech developments in East London are attracting hundreds of innovative businesses. Companies at the cutting edge, like Cisco, Google and Facebook, are opening offices in Tech City and taking advantage of a government intent on helping businesses clear the hurdles of opening shop. The apartments and dormitories that will house Olympic delegations will be converted into residential and office space once the Games have wrapped up. All told, the plans for East London after the 2012 Games will create 11,000 new homes, and up to 8,000 new employment opportunities.
In the meantime we eagerly await the arrival of the world's athletes. Here in the United States, the Olympic excitement is always strong, and we look forward to welcoming our friends on this side of the Atlantic to our capital. We look forward to new sporting triumphs by everyone, certainly including our own participants. And we're proud that London as host city will be every bit as vibrant and international as the Games themselves.
Follow Nigel Sheinwald on Twitter: www.twitter.com/UKinUSA