Recently I met four time Olympic gold medallist Sir Matthew Pinsent to highlight the fact that the London 2012 Olympic Games will commence in two years time.
'The journey began back in 2005 when London won the bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Since then my Department has been working closely with a range of key partners to ensure that the Games will leave a lasting legacy for the people of Northern Ireland.
A great deal has been achieved to date, on a sporting, social and economic level. For example, a total of 20 local projects have been awarded the prestigious London 2012 Inspire mark in recognition of their excellence and innovation. These projects have already had a considerable positive impact and will continue to do so in the run up to the 2012 Games and beyond, with combined projected participation figures of almost half a million people.'
On the economic front, local businesses have won contracts for providing facilities and services for the 2012 Games, which is great news for the local economy. Work is also ongoing to attract teams to undertake their pre-Games training in Northern Ireland, which will again be a bonus for our economy.'
'Northern Ireland has a successful track record at the Olympics, from Dame Mary Peters to Alan Campbell. I am confident that many of our local athletes will be taking part in the Games, with many of our leading sportspeople already focusing their training efforts towards 2012.'