Olympians and Paralympians celebrate London 2012 at anniversary event
- Credit: Ken Mears
Athletes returned to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for a special event commemorating ten years since London 2012.
Multiple champions Sir Chris Hoy and Ellie Simmonds were joined by a host of other Olympians and Paralympians for the anniversary celebrations.
Children from Gainsborough Primary School in Hackney also attended and one of its pupils, Rena Vasileva, read a poem My Journey through the Olympic Park.
She was then joined by Simmonds, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and sprinter Christine Ohuruogu on stage to light the Paralympic cauldron once more.
Ohuruogu, who won silver in the 400m at London 2012 after winning gold in Beijing four years earlier, was born and raised in Stratford.
But she told guests she "never used to enjoy saying I grew up here".
"Growing up in Stratford was very different to the experiences I have now," Ohuruogu said.
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Speaking to this paper, she elaborated on what she meant.
"I went to school in Romford and, growing up in east London, Romford is hugely different from Stratford.
"They had an ice skating rink, a huge shopping mall, all the things kids like to have growing up.
"Stratford we didn't really have anything like that so it paled into comparison to my friends living in leafy Romford.
"My home was my home and I've always loved my home but it was just very different. It really wasn't anything to shout about but now we have loads to shout about."
The park is continuing to undergo change ten years on from the Games.
This includes the development of East Bank, a cultural district which will feature a V&A museum and BBC music studios.
Ohuruogu said local people should "be at the core" of the park's future.
"We have suffered with the building of the Games and disruption to life", she said.
"But also when we talk about legacy, you don't want the Games to just affect a small amount of people. I think that's hugely unfair.
"We want the Games to be able to bring everybody along, make lives better for everyone, not just a select few.
"I'm happy that's been taken into consideration. I still think more can be done but it's a starting point."
Mr Khan said the community had been engaged in relation to East Bank.
He explained: "We've really tried hard to get local residents involved in the decisions that affect their community."
The mayor recalled to this paper that when he was first elected, residents had told him it was "like a spaceship landed in Stratford".
He admitted the legacy of London 2012 "has not been perfect", adding: "There's lots of things I'm critical about.
"From not enough genuinely affordable homes, not enough grassroots sports investment and not enough involvement of local people.
"What we've tried to do since 2016 is make up lost ground."
During the event Mr Khan announced a £17m fund, in partnership with The London Marathon Charitable Trust and Sport England, to support young Londoners into sport and follow in the footsteps of the likes of Ohuruogu and Simmonds.
The multiple Paralympic champion won her two London 2012 golds in the Aquatics Centre, a pool she used as a training base for five years.
For her, the London Games showcased Paralympians as "professional athletes".
Simmonds told this paper: "It changed my life dramatically. I became a household name - the things I got to do, the opportunities I got to have.
"I would go back and relive 2012 in a heartbeat, it was just phenomenal.
"Tickets were sold, people wanted to come and watch Paralympic sport.
"Also the awareness that there are so many disabilities out there and we're not sob stories - we're here the same as everyone else."
Asked what she wanted the legacy to be in another ten years, she added: "For the Paralympics to be up there even more - not just in Britain but in the world."
As well as the athletes who took part in the ceremony, there were a number of performances.
These included the Games Maker Choir, made up of people who volunteered at London 2012.
The Patience J dance collective also delivered a routine and the Darryl Beeton and Co and Mimbre production Look Mum, No Hands! was showcased.
The Great Get Together, a free community event including music, dance, arts and sports, also took place in the park on Saturday (July 23) as part of the anniversary celebrations.