If you are sporty and you live in the South West you may have noticed at some time or another that not much goes on down our way. I’m talking in a competitive sense here. I think that our sports provision for youngsters is poor and, although it is improving for adults, it is not as good as it is north of Bath or east of Hampshire. I do have to add some caveats to this I suppose because we do have Portsmouth and Southampton football clubs, and Bournemouth entered the Premier league for the 2015 season, which was all terribly exciting for everyone who didn’t get caught in the traffic on the day of the Club parade – you see we don’t have a motorway down ‘ere neither. Equally, if you head West you can watch Exeter Chiefs in the rugby union Premiership and they are holding a very strong position at present this season. Not to mention that until 2016 at the very least, we’ll be able to boast about hosting the Olympic sailing events. This was made all the more exciting by the decision of local Councils to improve our road infrastructure in the run up to London 2012. I believe that improvements to lane marking (everybody loves all those lines) and the hamburger roundabout that you will no doubt come across should you venture to the Dorset end of the Jurassic Coast, is the bane of our commuting lives and looks set to be so for the next however many years. It did let’s not forget, shave approximately 5 minutes from the journey from London to Weymouth. Woo and hoo! Personally, if I was a competitor, I would have sailed down.
When I was a kid growing up I would fantasise about playing at Wimbledon – my standards are nowhere near – playing hockey for my Country or even walking onto a hallowed sports pitch. But other Counties always had a better reputation for sporting prowess than ours and, even now, many years since I was that kid, our Centres of Excellence are few and far between even if our standards and participation rates are increasing year on year. I would love there to be a Bath or Loughborough style reputation in the South West but there simply isn’t.
This is why I was so thrilled at the news recently that Ironman is coming to Weymouth. The bike route will take in the Jurassic Coast line; the swim will be in the recently-more-famous-since-2012 Weymouth bay. Down on the South Coast we know how to host a party even if it does take a lot of queuing on the A31 to reach your destination (you have been warned!). We have hosted International sporting events before,and we probably still have the seating plan. I can’t believe how exciting this is and I only have to wait another 4 months to even wander down (join the same queue as you) for a look.
But yes, shout about it. Down here on the Coast where sport trickles rather than gallops something big is about to happen. There are waves of Iron lapping at the Jurassic Coast. The clock is ticking to September 11th 2016. We look forward to welcoming you.