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Islington Council leader Catherine West tells the Gazette what the Olympics will bring to the borough.

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I can’t quite believe seven years have passed since that euphoric moment when we found out London would be hosting the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The greatest show on earth is right here on our doorsteps and I’m thrilled that Islington will be at the heart of it all.

We’ve got the Czech Open House making its home in our borough – bringing with it an exciting array of arts and cultural activities, the Olympic Torch passing through on July 26, our Torch Sports Day in Highbury Fields and the chance to have a go at any of the 19 Olympic sports available in the borough.

London won the bid on the back of our young people and I want it to leave a legacy of people inspired to get involved in sports.

That’s why we told the Mayor of London we wouldn’t spend £50,000 on the disposable flags and bunting they wanted, but instead we’d put on a mini Olympics in Highbury Fields with schools.

It’s also why I’m delighted to announce that to celebrate this Olympic year we’re offering our young people (16 and under) free swimming over the summer holidays at Islington’s Archway, Highbury and Cally Pools.

We’ll be releasing the full details shortly.

Tickets for the Games are expensive, but we’re on the side of our community and have been working hard to make sure local people don’t miss out.

Thanks to the generosity of local businesses, who covered the cost, we’re giving away more than 200 Olympic and Paralympic tickets to special people who do so much yet don’t get the recognition they deserve.

You’ve got until April 30 to nominate your Community Hero by visiting www.islington.gov.uk/communityheroes.

With just three months to go, excitement is mounting. For most of us this will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be so close to the Olympic action.

Please don’t miss the opportunity to get involved.

Check out our full Olympic events diary at www.islington.gov.uk/olympics

Councillor Catherine West Leader of Islington Council

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