As I look out of the window of my offices in Canary Wharf, I can track how the skyline of London has visibly altered over the past three years or so.
Rising in the east is the Olympic Stadium, to all intents and purposes a completed structure; the roof of the Aquatics Centre dominates the skyline to the right of the stadium; the Olympic village is in the background; the velodrome, its roof complete, and in the middle the distinctive basketball arena.
With exactly two years to go, our planning is well advanced – venues are a year (or less) away from completion and every day the Olympic Park is getting closer to becoming a fantastic new parkland area. Now it is your turn, as we celebrate two years to go, it is time for you to plan your Games.
When I competed, my schedule was focused on major competitions, with the aim being that I peaked at just the right time. That is what Team GB and Paralympics GB athletes will be doing right now – their eyes will be on the prize of competing in a Games in front of a home crowd.
This time next year we will be in the midst of testing our venues, tickets will have gone on sale, our volunteers will be in training and we will be on the final straight. So now is the perfect time for everyone to start planning the summer of 2012.
There are 26 Olympic sports and 20 Paralympic sports to choose from. Sports fans will be spoilt for choice. There will be 10 million tickets on sale across both Games and by signing up now to our pre-registration scheme, you will have a great opportunity to find out about all 46 sports as well as be in the best position when the ballot opens in spring 2011.
Hundreds of thousands of people registered an interest in becoming a volunteer for 2012. This year we will open the doors for applications. Volunteers often make a Games – from helping spectators get into venues, to helping athletes prepare for an event – which is why we are calling our volunteers ‘Games Makers’.
It is not for everyone, not all of the roles are particularly glamorous and some of our Games Makers might not even see our venues, let alone any sport, but the roles are vital and those who do decide to get involved can be assured of a fantastic experience. Now is the time to start researching what it takes to be a Games Maker.
If attending events or volunteering is not of interest, there will still be plenty of opportunities to be part of London 2012. The Torch will travel the length and breadth of the UK in 2012, with celebrations and events along the way. We are in the process of working with local authorities to determine its route and we will update more on this early next year.
Our education programme ‘Get Set’ continues to go from strength to strength. Thousands of schools have signed up to the programme, which provides some fantastic resource based on the Olympic and Paralympic values – plus schools get the opportunity to get visits from Olympians – and maybe even our own mascots Wenlock or Mandeville.
The finale of the Cultural Olympiad will be a once-in-a-lifetime festival, starting on June 21, 2012, and lasting for 12 weeks, bringing together talent from the world over from pop to film, from visual arts and fashion to theatre, from opera to digital innovation.
But already there are Cultural Olympiad projects up and running all over the country. And last weekend was the London 2012 Open Weekend, where almost 1,000 cultural and sporting events were enjoyed by people across the UK.
So we are in pretty good shape, but now it is your turn. As we look ahead two years, now is the perfect opportunity to start planning your Games and make sure you are ready to join in with the celebrations.