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Jeremy Hunt: 2012 Olympics will be extraordinary

Thank you. 2012 is going to be extraordinary. It's a big enough deal when we have 11 Aussie cricketers over to play the Ashes. Or 15 Welshman to play rugby at Twickenham.

But this isn't 15 or 150 or 1500 sportsmen and women. It will be the first time we have hosted nearly 15,000 athletes, the biggest sporting event in the history of our country and probably the world.

It will be the first time we have ever hosted 10 million spectators - more than the population of Ireland and New Zealand put together.

The first time we have held an event likely to be seen live by more than half the world's population.

The first time we have ever hosted over 100 heads of state at one time - someone's going to have fun doing the seating plan at Buckingham Palace.

And for me personally, the first time any mistakes I make will be reported to every corner of the world by - wait for it - 40,000 journalists.

But it isn't just me that is important to making this project happen.

Hugh Robertson and I will need the help of 19 government departments including Theresa May looking after security, Philip Hammond looking after transport, Eric Pickles and Boris Johnson looking after the Olympic Park.

And Don Foster and Ming Campbell, our coalition partners, who have now joined the Olympic Board also have key roles in the delivery of this project.

Let me say now that I have great confidence in our team in Government, in the ODA and at LOCOG. Not least because of the extraordinary leadership our very own Seb Coe has shown right from the start of this project. Seb's team raised two thirds of the sponsorship money before the economic crisis, so let's congratulate them for being about the only people who did fix the roof while the sun was shining.

And whilst we congratulate them, we should also wish every success to the team bidding to get England to host the World Cup in 2018. Everyone in FIFA should know that if you choose England we'll give you best world cup ever. 

The 2012 Olympics are going to be exciting and fun. But there's something deadly serious it needs to achieve as well, something that could affect every child in every school in the country.

That is to address the woeful lack of competitive sport in our schools.

After 13 years of Labour, only a fifth of children play sport regularly against other schools - and more than half don't play any inter-school sport at all.

Last year a school in Kent cancelled sports day because they were worried a child might fall over.

A school in Scotland even cancelled it because of uneven ground.

This is the type of society Labour created.

Where common sense is buried under bureaucracy.

Where sporting excellence is stifled by political correctness.

Where schools are more worried about being sued than being sporty.

This has to stop.

Which is why Lord Young's work that you heard about earlier in the week is so important.

The left say our passion for competitive sport is because we only care about life's winners.

What nonsense. We want to unlock the potential in every child.

But to do that they need to learn to cope with setbacks too - which is what competitive sport is all about.

Like the runner in Chariots of Fire. It was only when he fell over that he found the inspiration to get up and win.

Shakespeare said it is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.

Nothing betrays a child more than trying to pretend life doesn't have its knocks.

Than taking away the confidence that comes from learning to take life in your stride.

Than giving gold medals for mediocrity instead of rewarding the effort of true achievement.

We heard this morning from double world champion Rachel Morris. I first told you about Rachel's amazing story at conference two years ago. You gave her a round of applause then for her gold medal but now we can congratulate her in person.

We're also thrilled James Cracknell is here, still doing crazy exploits even after winning 2 gold medals. Everyone here wishes you a speedy recovery after your accident.

So how can we get Rachel and James's stories to inspire school children across the country?

Last year I said I wanted to launch an Olympic-style school sports competition that could involve every school in every town in the country.
Well Colin Moynihan and the British Olympic Association are going to help us make it happen.

And it isn't just Colin. We have the support of Michael Gove, the Youth Sports Trust, and Seb Coe. Together with all of those wonderful stars you have just seen in the video.

Next year we will have pilots in the Black Country, London, Cornwall, Manchester, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Tyne and Wear. And the first ever finals will be in the brand new Olympic Park in the spring of 2012.

Bringing competitive sport within reach of millions of children for the first time.

Building their confidence. Boosting their ambition. Preparing them for a competitive world outside.

Conference I told you what I wanted to do. So let me say now thank you for putting David Cameron into Downing Street and allowing me to make it happen.

But let me also be clear. The success of this project will not be a Schools Olympics in 2012. It will be a Schools Olympics in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

A lasting Olympic legacy.

A lasting increase in the number of children playing competitive sport.

And a lasting boost to values that will help every child make the most of his or her life.

And whilst I remember, there's something else I told you I was going to do last year. Something that will happen with an order I am laying before parliament in a few weeks time.

After 13 long years of seeing the lottery plundered by Labour, we will finally be returning it to its original four pillars. Grassroots sport - of course - but also art and heritage will all benefit by as much as £50m each year from 2012.

We will also insist that lottery distributors spend no more than 5% of what they distribute on admin. Not lobbying. Not press officers.

Because the lottery is the people's millions and not the politician's pot.

Reforming the lottery, bringing back competitive sport, playing our part in delivering the Olympics...has been a sprint since the election.

But to get to the starting blocks, you, I and everyone here has had to run a marathon of an election campaign.

We ran that marathon for one very simple reason: all of us believe in our country and know its potential.

That potential starts with our young people.

Not the mass mediocrity of prizes for all.

Not the false comfort of avoiding competition.

Not the heavy burden of low expectations.

But the hope of a parent who says why not, go for it.

The pride of a teacher unlocking hidden talents.

And the confidence of a new government that knows that only by expecting the best from young people will we get the best from young people.

Because when they start winning we all start winning.

And our great country can start looking to the future with optimism again.

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