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Historic wins, inspiring moments and British success: MPs share what they’re looking forward at the Paris Olympics

UK Sport

8 min read Partner content

Amidst everything else expected in 2024, a new wave of Olympic and Paralympic athletes are preparing to head across the Channel, aiming to win gold in Paris. Team GB and ParalympicsGB, backed by support from the Government and National Lottery, are hoping to inspire the nation once again with extraordinary sporting moments and medal-winning performances.

From the 26 of July to the 11 of August over 10,000 athletes from across the globe will compete in the Paris 2024 Olympics, 100 years since the city last hosted. With the sport of breaking joining the programme as well as sport climbing, skateboarding, and surfing making a return following their success in Tokyo in 2020, it is set to be a jam-packed Games with 329 medal events.

Finishing an epic summer of sport, the Paralympic Games, from the 28 August to 8 September, will bring together 4,400 of the world’s most outstanding Paralympic athletes competing in 164 medal events.

With such a promising Games so close to home, we asked some of Westminster’s biggest sports fans to share which sports they’ll be keeping an eye out for, their favourite memories of past Olympics and Paralympics and how successful they think Team GB will be. Here’s what they said...

 

Caroline Dinenage – Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee

Parliamentary Portrait of Caroline DinenageWhat sport are you most looking forward to watching? 

Having recently visited the home of British Cycling in Manchester and seen the preparation that has gone into the team and met some of the athletes, I know I’m going to take a special interest in that. 

There are a number of names to look out for – track sprinters Emma Finucane and Lizzi Jordan, Keiran Reilly in the freestyle BMX, and Beth Shriver in the BMX racing.  Beth won the gold medal for Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics, the first time BMX was included.  Last summer I was lucky enough to meet her at a competition in my Gosport Constituency.  I saw how she inspired the young riders there and I know she’ll be one to inspire the nation!

What are your favourite memories of the Olympic Games?

My earliest childhood memories go back to 1980 when my Dad covered the Moscow Olympics, but more recently it has to be Super Saturday in 2012! The Office of National Statistics have predicted that the increased productivity and GDP in the UK the Monday after that weekend of sport outweighed the cost of hosting the Games. 

What do the Olympics and Paralympics mean to the nation?

The Olympic and Paralympic Games remind us that we have every reason to be proud of the UK. They have the unique ability to bring all parts of the nation together and showcase to the best of British values – perseverance, resolve, diversity, and spirit.

It’s also important to be reminded that in sports as varied as kayaking to kickboxing there are thousands of talented and driven people up and down the country demonstrating these values and working extremely hard simply for the pride of representing the UK on the world stage.

 

Stephanie Peacock, Shadow Minister for Sport

Where do you see us finishing in the medal tables?Parliamentary Portrait of Stephanie Peacock

 I’d love to see us match or better our Tokyo medal haul, which saw us place in the top 5 countries in the world. Team GB have punched well above their weight in the last decade or so, bringing back over 60 medals in each of the last 3 summer games. I know ambitions will be higher than ever amongst our athletes, and it would be great to see this outstanding success continue.

Which events are you most looking forward to watching?

I really enjoyed taking part in gymnastics when I was younger, so I am looking forward to the various gymnastics events during the competition. It is one of the oldest Olympic sports, and Team GB seem to be having more success in it than ever. Hopefully this year will be another one for the record books.

What are your favourite Olympic and Paralympic memories?

When London had the honour of hosting the Olympics in 2012, I was completely mesmerised by the opening ceremony. The whole event brought our country, and the world, together – I will never forget it.

 

Stuart Andrew, Minister for Sport

Parliamentary Portrait of Stuart AndrewWhy do you feel the Olympic and Paralympic Games are important to the nation?

Both the Olympic and Paralympic games are the culmination of years of training from our fastest and strongest athletes.  The whole nation unites behind Team GB and ParalympicsGB every four years, and I know it will be just the same for Paris.

Major sporting events are brilliant in motivating children and adults to get involved in sport and inspire the next generation of sporting stars, a great thing both for the host nation and those involved. Sport England’s London 2012 legacy programme saw over 2,200 facilities built, 400 playing fields improved, and almost 60,000 people trained to encourage people to take up sport. It will be brilliant to see a similar legacy after the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Do you have a favourite Olympic sport?

It is almost impossible to choose as they’re all brilliant! I do love kayaking and recently visited the Canoe Slalom World Championships in Lee Valley which was very inspiring. I even had the chance to take part in a session on the water with Olympic Rower, and Chair of UK Sport, Katherine Grainger which was lots of fun.

Stuart Andrew and Katherine Grainger canoeing
Stuart Andrew and Katherine Grainger take to the water at the Canoe Slalom World Championships at Lee Valley in September 2023.

Where do you see us in the medal tables?

It’s still a long way to go to be making such calls! But the Tokyo Olympics saw Team GB win 64 medals in 25 different disciplines, and we’ve continued to back our athletes with record investment so I’m hoping for a good show from Olympians and Paralympians and alike. 

Which event are you most looking forward to watching?

Again, it’s so hard to decide as I’m looking forward to watching all of them! If I had to pick, I’d say an event like the decathlon as its fascinating watching athletes having mastered so many different disciplines.

 

Nigel Huddleston, Financial Secretary to the Treasury

What sport are you most looking forward to watching?Parliamentary Portrait of Nigel Huddleston

I am in the fortunate position of loving all sport but highlights for me are athletics, diving, gymnastics and wheelchair tennis. The Paralympics are always mesmerising across the board.

What do you enjoy the most about the Olympics and Paralympics?

Sport unifies the world and highlights people's abilities no matter what their challenges.  The Paralympics always inspire and make a great impact on me. People who we have never heard of today will be household names after these games.  I cannot wait!

 

Kim Leadbeater, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sport

Parliamentary Portrait of Kim LeadbeaterWhat are your favourite memories of the Olympic Games?

Super Saturday in 2012 when Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Greg Rutherford all won golds within 44 minutes of each other. And further back, of course, magnificent performances from the likes of Zola Budd, Linford Christie, Sally Gunnell and Fatima Whitbread

What are you most looking forward to watching?

As someone who has played hockey for 30 years, I'm very much looking forward to seeing some hockey. This job doesn't allow much time for sitting in front of the telly, but I'll enjoy watching pretty much any sport when I can.

 

Damian Green, Member of the Culture, Media and Sport Select CommitteeParliamentary Portrait of Damian Green

Why do you feel the Olympic and Paralympic Games are important to the nation?

The Olympics and Paralympics are important for all of us as they foster unity, inspiration and international cooperation. As our athletes compete globally, they cultivate a deep sense of national pride and inspire individuals to pursue their dreams.

Who do you want to see most winning Gold this year?

Team GB consistently perform well, always high up on the medal table, and this really showcases our nation’s achievements. I look forward to what Team GB can achieve at Paris this Summer. I particularly hope Katerina Johnson- Thompson finally achieves the Olympic gold she deserves, and in the Paralympics, I look forward to Beth Munro going one better in Paris at the Taekwondo than she did in Tokyo.

 

Investment from the Government and the National Lottery means Team GB and ParalympicsGB are in great shape as they head to Paris this summer - and they’ll be cheered on from Westminster and across the nation.

 

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