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Transport and the Olympic legacy: driving innovation

Katherine Aitchison17 September 2012

So. The Olympics. What a nightmare for the transport network that was right?

Oh no, sorry, that’s what I was expecting to write a couple of months ago. Back when the Olympics were a big black mark in my diary when I would be unable to get to work or the supermarket or even out of my front door due to the millions of extra people London would be hosting.

And apparently 97% of Londoners agreed with me. Only 3% of the city’s population felt that the transport network would cope with the added demand of the Games. But we were all wrong; everything ran smoothly, events started on time, no athletes were lost at Bank station never to be seen again and (perhaps most importantly) commuters were able to keep on commuting.

So what can we learn from the employment of public transport during the Games and how can this shape the network of the future? (more…)

Why do we hold separate Paralympic and Olympic Events?

news editor17 August 2012

 By Ruth Somerville, Leonard Cheshire Disability

“We’ve had the biggest marketing campaign in the station’s history for the Paralympics. And the viewer response? I’ve never seen anything like it! ” Dan Brooke, Director of Marketing and Communications, Channel 4

You can see it in the near sell-out ticket figures, on the advertising billboards, and in the headlines about ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius competing at the Olympic Games. 2012 has seen the Paralympics – originally founded as a completely separate, or ‘parallel’ Games – race towards the mainstream.

At UCL’s  ‘Why do we hold separate Paralympic and Olympic Events?’(13 August), there wasn’t a spare seat in the room. I had gone because, like many people mystified by the complexities of Oscar Pistorius’ Olympic bid (and because I work for a disability charity), I really, really wanted to find out definitively what a ‘combined’ Games actually means.

With a brilliantly chosen panel of experts covering everything from logistics (Mark Dyer, London 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority) to broadcasting (Dan Brooke, Channel 4) to sports and disability theory (Dr P David Howe of  Loughborough University, and Professor Nora Groce of UCL), I had very high hopes for enlightenment…

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Embracing failure

Katherine Aitchison27 July 2012

Once a month, something beautiful happens in a dark room behind the Wilmington Arms pub in Islington. Now don’t let your imagination run away with you – I’m talking about Bright Club, the alternative comedy night from UCL.

On this night, researchers, academics and otherwise serious folk gather in the tiny room and, for two hours, tell silly stories and generally make fun of their chosen careers.

The event is understandably popular; tickets had sold out and I was glad that I got there early enough to grab a seat on a rickety wooden bench. By the time the metaphorical curtain went up, there were people leaning on all the walls and my bench was surrounded by those who had been further back in the queue and were forced to stand through the acts.

Each month’s gathering has a theme and the chosen topic for July was “Failure” in order to tie in with UCL’s series of Olympic-themed events, Exercise your brain. The idea being to take the edge off all the talk of winning and medals inspired by the Games by celebrating the fact that not everything always goes according to plan.

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What can the Olympic Games do for you?

Katherine Aitchison16 July 2012

This summer, the Olympic Games are coming to London (in case you hadn’t heard) and with them a huge focus on sport and exercise throughout the country. But how does this investment in sport affect you average non-sporty person?

That was the question posed to a panel of experts at the UCL Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health Grand Round on 10July entitled Optimising Performance: success for our athletes, health for our nation.

Held as part of UCL’s “Exercise your Brain” programme to tie in with the Olympic Games, the panel included Sir Clive Woodward (Director of Elite Performance, British Olympic Association), Dr Mike Loosemore (Team doctor, Great Britain Olympic boxing) and UCL’s Professor Hugh Montgomery and Professor Mike Grocott.

All of the panellists were there to convince us that investing in sport research can have far-reaching benefits throughout the health industry.

(more…)