Road to 2012: Setting Out

Press Release

Tuesday 20 July 2010

STRIKING NEW PORTRAITS REVEALED IN ROAD TO 2012: SETTING OUT

THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY/BT ROAD TO 2012 PROJECT 

20 July-26 September 2010
Studio Gallery and Ondaatje Wing Main Hall,
National Portrait Gallery
Admission Free 

www.npg.org.uk/roadto2012

In partnership with BT

-          Rebecca Adlington, Tom Daley, Katherine Grainger and Nathan Stephens by Bettina von Zwehl

-          Zaha Hadid, Ken Livingstone, Tessa Jowell and Steve Redgrave by Brian Griffin

-          The first National Portrait Gallery exhibition and portrait commission to include video interviews and behind-the-scenes photographs of the shoots

A series of striking new photographic portraits of athletes, politicians and engineers is today revealed as part of the National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 Project. Part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, the exhibition Road to 2012: Setting Out shows a new side to Britain's medal hopefuls and key figures behind the bid and delivery of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games through powerful portrait images.

As the two-year countdown to the Olympic and Paralympic Games begins, and thanks to funding from BT, the Gallery is unveiling 30 portraits, the first from a total of 100 commissions which will be displayed at the Gallery each summer over the next three years. For the first time, the National Portrait Gallery has commissioned portraits and video interviews with some of the sitters and behind-the-scenes photographs of the shoots which reveal the stories behind the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 Project celebrates those who are collectively making the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games happen. BT, the official communications services partner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is the Project partner, enabling the Gallery not only to create the portraits but also to share them with the public through the annual exhibitions, a website and community projects between now and 2012 as part of the Cultural Olympiad.   

Road to 2012: Setting Out features the work of photographers Brian Griffin and Bettina von Zwehl. Griffin photographed the visionary figures who conceived and won the bid for London, as well as those responsible for designing, building and delivering the Olympic Park. Von Zwehl's photographs include young athletes aspiring to be selected for Team GB for the first time, World Champions, and Olympic and Paralympic medalists.

The project website www.npg.org.uk/roadto2012 - where visitors can contribute their own inspirational photos - is launched today and features new interviews with Bettina von Zwehl's sitters, behind-the-scenes shots and East London perspectives. 

The first 30 commissioned portraits on show in Road to 2012: Setting Out include those involved in winning the bid and the delivery stage as well as top young athletes who reveal the people who inspired them:

  • World champion heptathlete Jessica Ennis  
  • The UK's first individual world diving champion Tom Daley
  • Double Olympic Gold medal-winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington
  • One of only two UK athletes to compete at both Winter and Summer Paralympic Games, BT Ambassador Nathan Stephens who lost both legs at the age of nine - when playing on railway tracks; he now aims to be the UK's greatest Paralympian thrower.
  • World renowned architect Zaha Hadid pictured beside her Aquatics Centre during construction
  • Key people behind the bid for the London Games - Tessa Jowell, Ken Livingstone, Sir Steve Redgrave     
  • Steve Deeble, Antonn Russek, Dave Skerritt and Clare Staveley, engineers working on soil cleaning, a key part of the sustainability promise for the Olympic Park

Brian Griffin (b.1948) is recognised for his groundbreaking depiction of work. He established an international reputation through his portraits of the workers who built Broadgate in the City of London in the 1980s. It was reinforced in 2007 when London and Continental Railways commissioned him to document the management and workforce who built High Speed 1, the UK's first high-speed railway, and the largest construction project in British history.

Griffin takes his inspiration from a broad range of visual culture. Old Master painting informs his lighting, and his interest in nineteenth-century symbolism, classical sculpture and B-movies contributes to his images. Invited to portray the sitters in groups for this commission, Griffin returned to the collections of the National Gallery and the National Maritime Museum. He rarely preconceives an image, preferring to observe and respond to his sitters. Drawing on his imagination, technical virtuosity and experience as a film maker, Griffin works with sitters to create compelling and complex scenarios.

German-born Bettina von Zwehl (b.1971) began making portraits as a student at the Royal College of Art. She adopted the nineteenth-century studio methodology that she had first encountered as photographer's assistant in Rome, working on 10" x 8" film with a large-plate camera. This slow, quiet process and the descriptive power of the format give her images an extraordinary intensity. Since graduating in 1999 von Zwehl's work has been collected and exhibited internationally. Her first monograph was published in 2007.

For this commission von Zwehl was invited to make a series of portraits on location to give the viewer a sense of personal encounter with her sitters. Inspiration marks the beginning of an athlete's journey to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Gallery's accompanying interviews, in which the sitters speak about their own inspiration, are integral to the display. Travelling across the country with her assistant and husband David Robinson, von Zwehl photographed the athletes in settings where they live or train. Robinson's control of light and von Zwehl's concentrated engagement with her subjects result in meditative observations of face, mood and physique.

To celebrate the National Portrait Gallery/BT Road to 2012 Project, BT launched a portrait competition Everyday People on the Road to 2012 looking for the pictures and stories of the everyday people who are making a difference to the London 2012 Games. The competition asked people to nominate someone who was contributing behind the scenes, without wide public recognition, to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The winner was Ray Haggan, who won for his commitment to nurturing swimming in the UK. His prize was to have his portrait taken by Bettina Von Zwehl and this is also displayed at the Gallery.

Further annual commissions from high-profile and emerging photographers will document sporting aspiration and performance as well as the staging and legacy of London 2012. The portraits will form a lasting record of the Games accessible to the public for many generations to come.

Each subsequent phase of the Project will be displayed free to the public at the Gallery in the summers of 2011 and 2012. The final display in summer 2012 will open with the staging of the Games and will culminate in an exhibition that includes highlights of all the commissioned work.

An integrated participation programme for people living and working in the five Olympic host boroughs will explore the contributions and views on the vision and legacy of London 2012 in their local areas, resulting in display and interpretation material.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘This ambitious project, made possible by BT, is an important moment for the National Portrait Gallery. It not only shows extraordinary people connected to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, it tells their amazing stories and shares their inspirations. The Gallery and BT very much hope that visitors will take part in the project by coming to see the exhibition or by getting involved through our website'.

Ruth Mackenzie, Director, Cultural Olympiad, says: ‘It is great that people can see these amazing portraits at the National Portrait Gallery and also at www.npg.org.uk/roadto2012, where they can also see behind-the-scenes films and photography and contribute their own inspirational photos. This interactive project is made possible by Cultural Olympiad Premier Partner BT, who through this initiative are helping us tell the amazing stories of the extraordinary people connected to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.'

Suzi Williams, Director of Group Marketing and Brand, BT, says: ‘'The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be a once in a lifetime experience and it is important for the cultural legacy of the Games that the people at the heart of the event are celebrated and recorded. The Road to 2012 portraits will help ensure that the inspirational power of the Games can be shared with the nation for years to come. As a Premier Partner of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad, we are proud to be helping to make this happen.'   

For further press information please contact: Neil Evans, Press Office, National Portrait Gallery. Tel: 020 7312 2452 (not for publication), Email:  nevans@npg.org.uk

To download press images, please visit the press website: www.npg.org.uk/press

For BT press information please contact the BT Group Newsroom on its 24-hour number: 020 7356 5369. From outside the UK dial + 44 20 7356 5369.  All news releases can be accessed at our web site: http://www.bt.com/newscentre

For London 2012 Cultural Olympiad information please contact Paul Woodmansey in the London 2012 Press Office on +44 (0)203 2012 461, paul.woodmansey@london2012.com,  or visit the website at www.london2012.com .Find out the latest from London 2012 HQ on our blog http://blog.london2012.com or follow us on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/london2012team

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, WC2H 0HE opening hours: Saturday-Wednesday: 10am - 6pm (Gallery closure commences at 5.50pm) Late Opening: Thursday, Fridays:10am - 9pm (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm) Recorded information: 020 7312 2463 General information: 020 7306 0055 Website: www.npg.org.uk

About BT

BT is one of the world's leading providers of communications solutions and services operating in more than 170 countries.  Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to our customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services.  BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, Openreach, BT Retail and BT Wholesale.

BT is proud to be the official communications services partner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In the year ended 31 March 2010, BT Group's revenue was £20,911 million.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group.  BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York. 

For more information, visit www.bt.com/aboutbt

 

About London 2012 Cultural Olympiad

The London 2012 Cultural Olympiad is the largest cultural celebration in the history of the modern Olympic and Paralympic Movements.  Spread over four years, it is designed to give everyone in the UK a chance to be part of London 2012 and inspire creativity across all forms of culture, especially among young people. Millions of people around the UK are already part of the Cultural Olympiad, through the Inspire programme and Open Weekend.

The finale of the Cultural Olympiad will be a twelve week UK-wide Festival in the summer of 2012, bringing together leading artists from all over the world.

The Cultural Olympiad has benefited from a National Lottery grant of £16.6 million from the Olympic Lottery Distributor. Other funders include Legacy Trust UK and Arts Council England. British Council will commit £3million to the international development of London 2012 Cultural Olympiad projects. BP and BT are Premier Partners of the Cultural Olympiad. Panasonic are the presenting partner of Film Nation: Shorts.

For more details visit www.london2012.com/culture

NOTES TO EDITORS:

PORTRAITS BY BRIAN GRIFFIN: Bid and Delivery

KATIE MURPHY b.1987, GURPREET VIRDEE b.1991, SUTVEER KAUR b.1989, ALEX LOUKOS b.1992

Katie Murphy, Gurpreet Virdee, Sutveer Kaur and Alex Loukos are four of the thirty young East Londoners who joined the 100-strong London 2012 delegation team for the final stage of the bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Singapore 2005. These Young Ambassadors represented the communities that would benefit most if London were successful and also the core concept of providing inspiration for young people.

Kaur currently works for the London 2012 Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games as a Starting Blocks trainee. Loukos is a student who was inspired by his grandfather, a boxer in London's East End, to take up the sport at Langdon School. Murphy joined Olympic suppliers Haydon M&E in London Docklands as a document controller and Virdee is a university student.

‘There were thirty of us, but we were representing all young Londoners. It was quite a responsibility.' Alex Loukos

17 September 2009, Langdon School, London

ALISON NIMMO b.1964 and JASON PRIOR b.1961

Alison Nimmo, a chartered surveyor and town planner, is recognised for managing complex urban regeneration projects. In 2003 she joined the team bidding for London to become the host city of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. After the team's success, she was appointed Director of Design and Regeneration for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) with responsibility for the delivery of the Olympic Park and associated infrastructure. Jason Prior  is a landscape architect, urban designer and environmental planner. As European President of EDAW he headed up a consortium of architects, engineers and landscape designers, to produce the bid masterplan for the Olympic Park. In 2006 the ODA appointed Prior and the EDAW consortium as delivery partners for the development and implementation of the plan.

‘He has the vision. I make it happen.' Alison Nimmo

30 September 2009, AECOM/EDAW offices, London

MIKE DOBRISKEY b.1959 and LISA DOBRISKEY b.1983

Mike Dobriskey, a soil consultant, is a member of the soil survey and decontamination team for the Olympic Park. He has worked on the site since the extensive clean-up began in preparation for the construction of the venues, roads and bridges. Lisa, Dobriskey's eldest daughter began running competitively as a teenager. In 2006 she won a gold medal in the 1500m at the Commonwealth Games. She came fourth in the same event at Beijing 2008 and won a silver medal in the Athletics World Championships in 2009. Her 1500m personal best ranks her second in Britain's all-time list of records.

1 October 2009, Olympic Park, London

DENISE LEWIS b.1972 and JONATHAN EDWARDS b.1966

Denise Lewis, the West Bromwich track and field athlete, won an Olympic bronze medal in the heptathlon in Atlanta 1996 and a gold medal in Sydney 2000. Edwards is a triple jumper and former Olympic, Commonwealth, European and World champion. He won an Olympic bronze medal in 1996, a gold medal in 2000 and has held the world triple jump record since 1995. Invited by the London 2012 bid team to join other sports heroes as London 2012 Ambassadors, Lewis and Edwards played an important part in representing sport. Last year, Lewis added her support to International Inspiration, the international legacy programme for young people. Edwards is the athletes' representative on the board of the London 2012 Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

29 September 2009, LOCOG offices, Canary Wharf, London

ANTONN RUSSEK b.1983, DAVID SKERRITT b.1966, STEPHEN DEEBLE b.1958, CLARE STAVELEY b.1980

Antonn Russek, David Skerritt, Stephen Deeble and Clare Staveley are civil engineers who worked with the Olympic Park Enabling Works until June 2010, preparing the site for construction. Russek managed the Soil Treatment Centre and the soil washing plants that cleaned 80% of contaminated soil for reuse on the site. Skerritt project managed the Enabling Works in the south of the Park. Engineering manager Deeble supervised the technical aspects of the project including the innovative and sustainable techniques used to fulfil London's ‘Green Games' targets. Staveley analysed soil and supervised the soil washing plants.

‘Technically Steve Deeble is a guru. He knows everything you need to know down to the last detail...' Antonn Russek

5 October 2009, Olympic Park, London

SIR CRAIG REEDIE b.1941 and SIR KEITH MILLS b.1950

Craig Reedie is a former President of the International Badminton Federation. He has been a British representative on the International Olympic Committee since 1994. As chair of the British Olympic Association (1992-2005), Reedie was an initial driving force behind London's bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and instrumental in persuading the Government and other agencies to support it. He was appointed to the IOC Executive Board in October 2009. While working in marketing, Keith Mills devised the Air Miles and Nectar incentive schemes, positioning him at the forefront of British business. In 2003 he was appointed Chief Executive of London 2012 to lead the bid team. Following this success he became deputy chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

 ‘Keith Mills is my mentor...' Sebastian Coe

19 October 2009, Canary Wharf, London.

ADE ADEPITAN b.1973

Ade Adepitan was inspired to take up wheelchair basketball after watching coverage of the 1984 Olympic and Paralympic Games. As a member of Team GB he won a bronze medal in Athens 2004. The following year he won a gold medal at the inaugural Paralympic World Cup. Athletes were at the core of London's bid and Adepitan was invited to be a London 2012 Ambassador. He played an inspirational role in representing Paralympian sport to the International Olympic Committee. Adepitan switched sport to wheelchair tennis in 2007 and aspires to compete at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. He continues to be a professional broadcaster and works for many charities.

26 April 2010, LOCOG offices, London

PAUL WESTBURY b.1969, TONY AIKENHEAD b.1953 and ROD SHEARD b.1951

Paul Westbury, Tony Aikenhead and Rod Sheard head up Team Stadium, the consortium responsible for the design and construction of the London 2012 Olympic Stadium. Structural engineer Westbury is an award-winning director of Buro Happold. He has led key stadia projects including the Emirates Stadium for Arsenal FC and the Oval Longotto built for Turin 2006. Aikenhead joined Sir Robert McAlpine in 2007 as construction Project Director for Team Stadium. Sheard is the Senior Principal at Populous. He has a passion for sport architecture and is recognised internationally for his work on large venue designs including the Sydney 2000 stadium in his native Australia. 

18 January 2010, Olympic Stadium, London

SIMON CLEGG b.1959 and DAVID LUCKES b.1969

Simon Clegg and David Luckes were the original visionaries of London's successful bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Clegg joined the British Olympic Association in 1989, becoming its first Chief Executive in 1997. In the same year, Luckes, a logistics expert and Olympic hockey player, was commissioned to assess London's feasibility as a host city. He produced a 395-page study (shown in the portrait) in 2000, and together with Clegg, persuaded the key stakeholders, the Mayor of London and the government. Clegg's career with the BOA culminated in leading Team GB to success in Beijing 2008. He set the medal target for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games before becoming Chief Executive of Ipswich Town Football Club. Luckes is Head of Sport Competition for the London 2012 Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

‘Sport alone was never going to win the argument. We needed to convince the Cabinet.' Simon Clegg

5 February 2010, Wembley Stadium, London

SUSAN CABLE b.1965, GEORGE NOLAN b.1965, JAMIE NORRIS b 1993, NICOLA ZENI b.1989 and LIAM PADMORE b.1989

Susan Cable, George Nolan, Jamie Norris, Nicola Zeni and Liam Padmore are apprentices on the Olympic Park. Cable, a Tower Hamlets resident is an apprentice plumber on the Olympic Stadium. Newham-resident Nolan was one of the first on-site trainees in the Olympic Village. He served as a gunner in the Royal Artillery and was unemployed before joining the BeOnsite programme, where he has been promoted to supervisor. Norris joined the suppliers for the International Broadcast Centre where he is training alongside experienced electricians. Zeni chose the construction industry because she wanted a hands-on job and is training to be an electrician. Newham-based Padmore was recruited through the Olympic Delivery Authority as a technician apprentice and works in a tunnelling team in the Olympic Park.

‘Most jobs are sitting in offices, but there's a thrill to this. It's such an interesting job, you're underground, pushing tunnels through and building out timber in the shafts.' Liam Padmore

5 February 2010, Olympic Park, London

MIKE KENNY b.1961, JASON KENNY b.1988, MICK FEE b.1966

Two generations of the Bolton-based Kenny family have worked with Olympic Park suppliers Watson Steel Structures Ltd. Mike Kenny, the father of Olympic track cyclist Jason, joined the company as an operative after leaving college. Mick Fee, Mike Kenny's brother-in-law, was sixteen years old when he followed his father into the steel manufacturers as an apprentice plater. Jason emerged as an unexpected medallist in Beijing 2008. He progressed from junior level, winning multiple world and European titles and two under-23 European bronze medals, to joining Team GB in less than four years. Twenty years old when he won a gold medal in the team sprint, and silver behind team-mate Chris Hoy, Jason aims to improve on his success in the London 2012 Olympic Games.

24 February 2010, Watson Steel Structures, Bolton

JIM HEVERIN b.1969, ZAHA HADID b.1950, STUART FRASER b.1946, MIKE KING b.1968       

The Aquatic Team, Jim Heverin, Zaha Hadid, Stuart Fraser and Mike King have worked together closely to deliver the spectacular legacy venue designed by internationally-acclaimed architect, Hadid. Heverin has worked with Zaha Hadid Architects for thirteen years, designing and delivering projects internationally. He has led the design on the London Aquatics Centre since ZHA were appointed in 2005. Bagdad-born Hadid trained in London and founded her practice in 1980. She is recognised for her innovative designs, based on pioneering research. Fraser, the Balfour Beatty project director, draws on forty-five years of experience in the UK construction industry including University College Hospital and the completion of Terminal 5. Arup project director King is a structural engineer. His professional focus on long-span structures began with the Olympic Aquatic Centre in his native Sydney.

21 May 2010, Olympic Park, London

SIMON WRIGHT b.1955, MARGARET HICKISH b.1952, MORAG STUART b.1975 HUGH SUMNER b.1954 and HOWARD SHIPLEE b.1946

Simon Wright, the Olympic Delivery Authority Director of Infrastructure and Utilities, heads up the environmental, geotechnical and civil engineering programme across the 2012 Olympic Park. Margaret Hickish, a civil engineer, who became a wheelchair user in 1997, is the ODA Principal Access Officer. Her innovative solutions will fulfil London's promise to deliver the most accessible Olympic and Paralympic Games ever. Morag Stuart was ODA Head of Procurement (2006-2009). Her new approaches guaranteed delivery within anticipated costs and time frames while maintaining high quality. Hugh Sumner's transport planning played a critical part in London's successful bid. As ODA Director of Transport, his team will provide a public transport system to move spectators to all UK venues. Howard Shiplee brings a lifetime's experience to the role of ODA Director of Construction and leads the construction contracts, budgets and schedules.

5 March 2010, Stratford International, London

CHRIS WISE b.1956, DEAN GOODLIFFE b.1969, MIKE TAYLOR b.1961 and RON WEBB b.1932

Chris Wise, Dean Goodliffe, Mike Taylor and Ron Webb are responsible for the design and delivery of the Velodrome. Wise has guided the engineering of the venue. Expedition Engineering, the innovative practice Wise founded in 1999 won engineering's Supreme Award for its Infinity Bridge over the river Tees. ISG Divisional director Goodliffe is responsible for the construction of the venue including one of the largest cable-net roofs in the UK. Taylor is an architect and a keen cyclist. As a senior partner at Hopkins Architects he leads the multi-disciplinary team on the 2012 Velodrome and Legacy VeloPark. Former Australian cycling champion Webb has installed fifty-two tracks worldwide including Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004. Previously retired, he could not resist the ODA's challenge to design a super-fast track.

‘Building a track is like building a ship inside out.' Ron Webb

15 April 2010, Velodrome, Olympic Park, London

TONY WINTERBOTTOM b.1944 and KEN LIVINGSTONE b.1945

During his seven years as Executive Director, Major Projects at the London Delivery Agency (LDA) managing consultant Tony Winterbottom was at the centre of significant London developments including Wembley Stadium. He played a central role in the development of London's bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In 2001, Ken Livingstone, then Mayor of London, saw the project's potential for the regeneration of east London and offered the British Olympic Association essential and unequivocal support in their bid campaign. Subsequently, Livingstone's financial agreement with Tessa Jowell, then Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, enabled her to gain full Cabinet endorsement in 2003. Livingston, who lost his position to Boris Johnson in 2008, has announced he will run for Mayor again in 2012

25 January 2010, City Hall, London

TESSA JOWELL b.1947

Tessa Jowell, Secretary of the State for Culture, Media and Sport (2001-7), played a critical part in London's bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In 2003, after a two-year campaign, she gained the required endorsement of the entire Cabinet to support the proposal. She went on to lobby nationally and internationally for a successful outcome.

Jowell entered Parliament as a Labour MP in 1992 and was a member of both the Blair and Brown cabinets including Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (2001-7) and Minister for London (2009-10). The role of Minister for the Olympics was added to her portfolio in July 2005, which she now shadows in opposition.

‘We are all so proud to be part of this. It's a passion.' Tessa Jowell

2 February 2010, Cabinet Office, London

JUDE KELLY b.1954 and SIR STEVE REDGRAVE b.1962

Jude Kelly is a key player in UK arts and culture scene.  She campaigned for the arts and cultural industries to play a central role in the Olympic and Paralympic bid.  She was Chair of Culture, Ceremonies and Education (2003-06) and developed the cultural chapter of London's bid proposal to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Currently Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre, London she now sits on the Cultural Olympiad Board.

Oarsman Steve Redgrave is the UK's greatest Olympian and one of only five people to have won gold medals in five consecutive Olympic Games. He was the first athlete to join Simon Clegg, David Luckes and Sir Craig Reedie on the London 2012 bid team where he campaigned to gain the support of key stakeholders. Redgrave was the founding member and Chair of the bid's Athlete Advisory Group. He is currently advising government as 2012 Sports Legacy Champion.

4 February 2010, South Bank, London

DEBBIE JEVANS b.1960 and DAME TANNI GREY-THOMPSON b.1969

Former GB tennis player, Debbie Jevans is the first woman to reach the top in UK sports administration. She brought her knowledge of international sports' governing bodies, gained through working with the International Tennis Federation, to her position as Director of Sport for the London bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Jevans continues in her role as Director of Sport with the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

As a London 2012 Ambassador and the UK's most successful female Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson was an influential advocate on London's sports-centred bid. She retired from competition with fifteen Paralympic medals, including eleven gold. She continues to play a major part in disability sport and sports administration including Sportsleaders UK and the Women's Sport's Foundation. Grey-Thompson was appointed to the House of Lords as a crossbench peer this year.

‘It's giving back - to your city, to your country.' Debbie Jevans

27 February 2010, Canary Wharf, London

DAVID HIGGINS b.1954 IAN GALLOWAY b.1952 and JOHN ARMITT b.1946,

Australian-born David Higgins has been chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority since 2006. A former civil engineer, with an international career he is responsible for the design and construction of the London 2012 venues and infrastructure that will be handed over to the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Ian Galloway brings his experience of large-scale infrastructure projects including the Channel Tunnel Rail Link to his position as head of the construction consortium, CLM. This organisation, created to work on the 2012 bid, was later appointed by the ODA as their delivery partner. John Armitt, also a former civil engineer, is the ODA Chair. He joined the organisation following his retirement as chief executive of Network Rail in 2007 and works closely with Higgins on ODA strategy.

‘The genius of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is David Higgins. He is building the Olympic Park on budget and on time.'  Tessa Jowell

3 March 2010, Bow Yard East, London

PORTRAITS BY BETTINA VON ZWEHL: Inspiration  

OLA ABIDOGUN b.1993

Sixteen-year-old sprinter Ola Abidogun made his international debut in 2009. The UK Athletics Association recognized his Paralympian potential and invited him to join their World Class Performance Programme. His success this season puts him on-track for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the next milestone on his journey towards the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Bolton-based Abidogun started running at school and joined Horwich RMI Harriers, his local athletics club. He trains alongside able-bodied athletes at the Reebok Stadium and is studying for his A levels.

‘I admire Usain Bolt for his attitude... most people expect sprinters to be very serious people on the line, Usain Bolt tends to inject a bit of fun.' Ola Abidogun

5 May 2010, Bolton Arena

ZOE SMITH b.1994

Sixteen-year-old Greenwich-born Zoe Smith started out as a gymnast, before finding her true potential when a weightlifting studio opened at her local gym. She has since won medals at both the European and Commonwealth Youth Championships and holds over 300 weightlifting records. In 2008 Smith was invited to Beijing as part of Britain's Olympic Ambition Programme and was nominated British Olympic Association's Athlete of the Year (Weightlifting). She is studying for her A levels and training for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, the next key competition towards her ambition to take part in the London 2012 Olympic Games.

‘Quite a lot of people stand out for me, like Kelly Holmes who worked for so many years to achieve the top of her game.' Zoe Smith

10 April 2010, Greenwich, London         

JESSICA ENNIS b.1986

Jessica Ennis is a double world champion. She won the heptathlon title in 2009 and the indoor pentathlon this year. Ennis took up sport at the age of ten after a tryout during the school holidays. In her first senior championship at the 2006 Commonwealth Games she was an unexpected bronze medalist. Five weeks before the Beijing 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Ennis fractured her ankle. With the help of her coach, Toni Minichiello, she re-trained to compete using her other foot. Sheffield-born Ennis read psychology at her local university and continues to use the Don Valley stadium in preparation for the 2010 Commonwealth Games and London 2012 Olympic Games.

‘I personally draw inspiration from my injury... When I think about those days, it makes me feel really thankful for what I've got.' Jessica Ennis

20 May 2010, Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield

TOM DALEY b.1994

Tom Daley became the UK's first individual world diving champion after winning the 10m platform event at the World Championships last year. Encouraged to swim when he was three years old by his father, Daley started diving at the age of seven. He was the national under-18 champion at ten and became the youngest-ever senior European champion in 2008.  UK Aquatics selected him to represent Team GB at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games when he was fourteen. Daley is currently studying for his A levels and training and competing internationally. His ambition is to win a gold medal in front of a home crowd in 2012.                      

‘There have been lots of inspirational people in my life... people like the Olympic greats like Sir Steve Redgrave, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, Olympic heroes.' Tom Daley

7 June 2010, Plymouth, Devon

NATHAN STEPHENS b.1988

One of only two UK athletes to compete at both Winter and Summer Paralympic Games, Nathan Stephens was a member of Team GB's ice sledge hockey team in Turin 2006 and competed as a thrower in Beijing 2008. Despite losing both legs at the age of nine, when playing on railway tracks, he continued with sport. His talent was recognised and he went on to win gold medals for the javelin, discus and shot put at junior and senior national level. He is training and competing in preparation for the IPC World Athletics Championships in 2011, the next step towards his ambition to be the UK's greatest Paralympian thrower.

‘When I lost my legs, it was "right, what can we all still do together?" I still played football, rugby with my friends, sitting on the floor as goalkeeper, scooting myself around with a rugby ball in my hands.' Nathan Stephens

18 May 2010, Barry Island, Wales

REBECCA ADLINGTON b.1989

Rebecca Adlington's unexpected gold medals in the 400m and 800m freestyle events in Beijing 2008 made her the first British swimmer to win more than one gold medal at a single Olympic Games for a hundred years. She met her long-term coach, Bill Furniss, when she began competing in Nottingham at the age of ten. The 2010 Commonwealth Games mark a milestone on Adlington's journey towards defending both her Olympic titles and her 800m Olympic record at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

‘What inspired me was that my two older sisters swam when I was little and I wanted to be like them'. Rebecca Adlington 

13 May 2010, Lenton Firs Rock Gardens, Nottingham University

DAVID ROBERTS b.1980

Welsh swimmer David Roberts is one of Britain's greatest Paralympians with a total of eleven gold, four silver and one bronze medal in the last three successive Paralympic Games. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of eleven, Roberts started swimming at his local club in Cardiff as part of his physiotherapy. In Sydney 2000 he won four gold medals. He competed in ten separate events at the Athens 2004 and broke his own record twice in one day in Beijing 2008. Roberts is determined to compete and win at home in the London 2012 Paralympic Games. 

‘My dad was my biggest inspiration and my biggest encouragement as well.' David Roberts

18 May 2010, Cardiff, Wales

KATHERINE GRAINGER b.1975

Katherine Grainger is Britain's most successful oarswoman. She took up rowing at Edinburgh University in 1993 and competed internationally for the first time in 1997. In 2009 Grainger won silver in the women's single sculls at the World Rowing Championships. At the finals of the first Rowing World Cup in 2010 she won gold in the double sculls with Anna Watkins, and an hour later won a second gold in the quadruple sculls. She repeated this success with two gold medals in the final Rowing World Cup in July. Grainger is also working towards a doctorate in homicide. With four world championship titles and three Olympic silver medals she is aiming for gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

‘The focus, the dedication, the life that they [the men's four: Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent, James Cracknell and Tim Foster] were creating around them, was really inspiring to see and be part of.' Katherine Grainger

31 May 2010, Bisham Abbey, Marlow

SAVANNAH MARSHALL b.1991

Teenager Savannah Marshall began boxing at Hartlepool's Headland Boxing Club at the age of twelve. Undefeated at junior and senior level she currently holds both English and European middleweight titles. With the inclusion of women's boxing for the first time in the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2012, Marshall is one of seven elite women boxers selected to receive funding and specialist training at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield. Recognised as a phenomenal talent, Marshall regularly spars with the men's squad while preparing for the World Championships in Barbados later this year.

‘My friends, who I grew up with, are supportive. I've got a friend who, if I ever wanted to take drugs or go out drinking, she'd probably slap me.' Savannah Marshall

9 June 2010, ExCel, London

VICTORIA PENDLETON b.1980

Victoria Pendleton was encouraged to cycle by her father, a national grass-track cycling champion. She rode her first grass-track race at the age of nine and her talent was recognised six years later. After graduating she became a full-time track cyclist. Pendleton was selected to ride for Team GB in Athens 2004. She has since won gold medals in individual and team events. At Beijing 2008 Pendleton won a gold medal in the individual sprint event and this year won the individual title at the World Track Cycling Championships for the fifth time. She is on target to defend her title at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

‘As a kid I always wanted to be really good at something. I needed to almost validate my worth. I always enjoyed sport and my dad was successful and competitive. That's what I wanted to emulate. Cycling was the avenue.' Victoria Pendleton

7 July 2010, Macclesfield Forest, Cheshire

RAY HAGGAN b.1939

Seventy-year old Ray Haggan first became involved in the Anaconda Swimming Club in Islington in 1986 when he signed his children up for lessons to inspire them with the same confidence he gained as a child. Haggan's involvement with the club increased,as he selected the competitors, chose the teams and drove the minibus to the pools. With over thirty swimmers competing in Nationals and two former members earmarked for Olympic potential the club went from near closure to a swelling membership of over 600. Haggan continues to volunteer as Competition Secretary.

Ray Haggan is this year's winner of BT's Everyday People on the Road to 2012 competition. His prize was to have his portrait made by Bettina Von Zwehl. The competition encourages you to nominate someone you know who is playing a part behind the scenes, without wide public recognition, for London 2012. BT wants to uncover stories of inspiration and share them.

The judging panel includes representatives from BT, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the National Portrait Gallery.


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