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Cosgrove speech at function with Sebastian Coe

Cosgrove speech at function with Lord Sebastian Coe

Venue: Auckland Museum, Parnell

Time: Monday 25 February 2008 6.00pm

Lord Coe; Secretary General of the New Zealand Olympic Committee Barry Maister and other board members; distinguished guests, including some of our great middle distance runners, Sir Murray Halberg, John Walker and Dick Quax; Sport and Recreation New Zealand chairman, John Wells; Auckland City Council Chief Executive David Rankin and North Shore City Council Chief Executive John Brockies; senior executive members of our national sporting organisations; leaders and supporters of sport and recreation in New Zealand; ladies and gentlemen.

It is my great pleasure to welcome Lord Sebastian Coe to New Zealand. Lord Coe is a true leader both on and off the track and we are indeed honoured by this visit. Lord Coe - we sincerely appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to address us this evening. You have achieved groundbreaking success in the sporting, political and business sectors and there is much that we can learn from your achievements.

As we know, as a middle-distance athlete, Lord Coe won four Olympic medals and held and broke multiple world records during his athletic career. I am advised that Lord Coe remains the only person to win back-to-back Olympic 1500 metre titles. That is a fantastic achievement.

Off the track, Lord Coe has carried on exceeding on the world stage. He is currently vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations; Chairman of FIFA’s Independent Ethics Committee; and has been awarded a Member, Officer and Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his services to sport.

I am sure most of you will know that, as the 2012 London Olympics bid Chairman, Lord Coe won the right for London to host the 2012 Games, beating four other outstanding bids from Paris, Moscow, New York and Madrid. Following London’s successful bid for the Olympics, Lord Coe became the Chairman of the London Organising Committee, charged with overseeing the development of the Olympic Games.

It is athletes such as Lord Coe - who carry on holding the torch for their countries long after they leave the track - that truly inspire us.

Lord Coe’s work on the bid process, and his more recent work to ensure that the infrastructure of London supports the 2012 Games, is particularly relevant to New Zealand as we continue to establish our standing as a country that can successfully host world-class events.

Major events offer us tremendous potential to build our economic prosperity. While stimulating regional economies in the areas in which they are held, major events offer their greatest contribution through attracting international visitors to New Zealand.

In 2004 the government established the Major Events Development Fund to help secure and maintain New Zealand’s position as a world-class events destination. To date, this fund has been highly successful in achieving progress. Events such as the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the 2009 Winter Games and the 2010 International Paralympic Committee World Championships have been secured through this partnership.

Lord Coe’s visit to New Zealand also highlights the potential to strengthen linkages between sport and business to help sports organisations to become match-fit.

SPARC, the Government agency that promotes sport and recreation, is committed to assisting national sport and recreation organisations to build a solid leadership so we have great people managing and supporting sport and recreation in New Zealand. It does this through a wide range of programmes.

The business sector is also a vital partner in providing the support necessary to help sport organisations become more competitive internationally.

With the Beijing Games now just months away, our top athletes are approaching the business end of their training and preparations and I know that SPARC, the New Zealand Olympic Committee and national sport organisations are working together to ensure that our athletes are supported so they can achieve success at the highest level and bring home Olympic medals.

SPARC is also continuing to work with its partners to ensure that success in Beijing is not only maintained but is built on in the lead-up to the London Olympic Games in 2012. We know that the 2012 Olympics Games is going to be a well organised and successful event for London as well as for New Zealand teams and athletes.

Lord Coe I would like to once again reiterate how honoured we are to have such an inspiring sports leader visiting New Zealand. Thank you for taking the time to speak to us all this evening. I look forward to hearing what you have to say. I would like to hand over to a legend on the sports stage, John Walker, to personally introduce Lord Coe. During his outstanding 18 year career, John won three commonwealth games medals and the 1500 metre gold medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. He was the first person to break the three minutes 50 second mile - setting the world record of 3 minutes 49.4 seconds at Gothenburg in 1975. John set a world 2000 metre record that lasted a decade, and ran more than 100 sub-four minute miles, the first person to reach that milestone. John truly set an inspiring standard for athletic excellence. It is fitting that John is here to welcome his old rival Lord Coe.

ENDS

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