PUBLISHED: 10:41 29 November 2010 | UPDATED: 15:23 20 February 2013
London 2012 is set to showcase our county to the world, but can Essex athletes also be sporting superstars on this stage? Dave Monk asks if not, why not?
THE Olympics: a flurry of intense media and popular interest in sport, much excitement, disappointment at the number of British Golds, exaltation of our rowers or curlers and then - nothing. It all goes quiet for another four years until the build-up begins again.
This year will be very different. With Britain the 2012 host nation and Essex as the virtual home of the games, the building, the speculation, the criticism and the over spend have already been with us for years. Like it or not, the games are going to be on our doorstep and we in Essex have four years to drain every last drop of benefit from those games in both fiscal and sporting profit for our county.
With our ringside seat for this world sporting carnival, young Essex sportsmen and women should actually be competing? We have four years to get them ready which begs the questions; do we have the sporting facilities to help them train and do the young people have the will and the determination to make this hope a reality?
More and better facilities cost money and that's always in short supply. Everybody naturally pushes for more, but surely we have plenty of these facilities already spread across the county. Possibly the more problematic question is that of determination and will. Do enough young people want to make the sacrifices necessary to reach a world class level in a sporting field?
Over the years, I've met, interviewed and worked with many Olympians and the common theme seems to be the financial struggle they've all faced in getting to the top. They just haven't had the backing to train for their sport and pay the mortgage at the same time. In many ways, we still have an amateur attitude to sport. Although we pay our footballers millions, we make individual sportsmen and women suffer for success.
Can we blame young people for not wanting to be world-beating track performers when we seem to expect them to hold down a job, feed the family, pay a mortgage and do the sporty bit in their spare time.
Even though we're getting better at identifying and nurturing talent we could still do more. There's enough suffering to be done getting to the top of a sport without the rest of life also being a battle.
Inevitably, once the 2012 Games are closer, youngsters will become more enthusiastic. Try booking a tennis court anywhere in Essex round Wimbledon fortnight and you'll know what I mean. The trick will be to start building that enthusiasm right now.