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City University London and the spirit of the Olympic Games 2012

As 2012 Universities Week begins, Bill Morris, London 2012 Events Chief and City University London alumnus returns to the campus to talk to current International Journalism MA student, Jo Healey. They meet at Northampton Square on an auspiciously sunny spring morning to share their experiences of City and their involvement with the forthcoming Olympic Games.

by Justin Kerr-Smiley

Bill graduated in Broadcast Journalism from City in 1982 and has had a long and distinguished career with the BBC. His official title is Director of Ceremonies, Education and Live Events at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Jo is a world class sportswoman who played volley ball for Team GB for over three years. She is now involved with press and PR at Team GB Volley Ball.

Q: City has played an important part in both your lives. What did it mean to you personally?

Bill Morris: "It was fantastic - what I always wanted to do. After my degree I applied for various journalist places but I wasn't getting anywhere. The post grad route at City looked like the best one and studying here certainly opened up the career opportunities. I went straight into a job at the BBC a few months after leaving the university."

Jo Healey: "It's been eye opening: I'm doing the International course here so there is a strong focus on the Middle East and Africa - nothing that I've ever done before. I've been a sports journalist for the last three year and now I'm broadening my horizons overall. The most beneficial part of the course is the practical aspect. I want to get into broadcasting so I'm loving working with the cameras and learning the production side."

Q: What is it like to be so involved in the preparation for the 2012 Olympics?

BM: "I spent a long time at the BBC - twenty-four years in all - but as soon as we won the bid, there was only one place to be. I'd probably have paid them to go and do it, but don't let on. It might be a cliché, but it really is the experience of a lifetime. The Olympic Games are a remarkable experience wherever they are and to have it in your own country, your own city is an amazing opportunity. It won't happen again in my lifetime, that's for sure. I was lucky enough to be involved in the Golden Jubilee and Live Aid, but then along comes the Olympics ..."

JH: "I'm excited. It's so motivating really. I think it's because I've got such a passion for sport; I'm working on a lot of the smaller programmes that are building a legacy for sport in the country. You bring your work and your personal passion to it as well."

nullQ: Is there are correlation between Higher Education and the Olympic spirit?

BM: "There is, fundamentally, a really important role that universities have played in the development of the Games and this is 2012 Universities Week. Across the country universities have been part of it in many different dimensions, crucially as training camps. Many of the Team GB athletes are still, or have been recently, within universities. There are several university projects where academia has studied Olympism, sport and the ethics of sport. We were a guinea pig course thirty years ago at City because we were the first year with a Broadcast Journalism course. We had a couple of tutors who were inspirational figures and set me out on the right path. The skills of a great teacher and a great coach are very similar."

JH: "Every single athlete that I've worked with has come through a university. Loughborough, for example, is the holding camp for most of the teams this year. Research-wise, health and fitness, strength and conditioning is all based fundamentally at the university. Higher Education is playing a massive part in what's going to happen and hopefully will create some more energy for the country and for everybody to latch onto.

Q: Is the spirit of London 2012 here to stay, or will it just fade away?

BM: "Sport is at the core of the Games but if you go back to its founding father, Pierre de Coubertin and the spirit of Olympism, it is a philosophy of life, which has academic study as one of its three pillars. Sport, culture and learning sit absolutely happily together in de Coubertin's vision of Olympism."

nullQ: Do we need more funding for British sport, and if so where's it going to come from? JH: Most comes from UK Sport and Lottery funding. From personal experience we had our funding cut a couple of years ago. It was devastating: beans on toast as an athlete isn't the best way to prepare yourself for an Olympic Games. What this Games needs to do is to produce results which will help build the next generation of Olympians. It will keep the whole notion of sport going in this country. The success of the Olympics is going to play a huge part in that."  JKS: Jo and Bill I know that everyone here at City wishes you both the best of luck for London 2012, for the event itself and for your team Jo.

BM/JH: Thank you very much.

Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of a good example, and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles. - Olympic Charter

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