Croydon misses the starter’s gun for Olympic Weekend

Finally, Croydon admits the Olympics really are coming to London.

It was 6.30 last night, six months after Boris and London’s Games organisers had set a deadline for local authorities throughout the capital to make submissions, and a month since Lord Seb had “got down with the kids” and done some base running in yet another feeble photo op to launch London’s latest Olympics Open Weekend.

It is also less than a week before the weekend’s events are due to take place, but finally, eventually, a press release is issued by Croydon Council about some activities taking place in the borough this weekend to mark the two years to go countdown to the Greatest Show On Earth coming to London.

When Lord Seb made the announcement, there were more than 80 events planned around London.

But not a single activity had been organised for Croydon, the capital’s most populated borough, which has given Team GB a host of proud Olympians in the past, and has several strong hopefuls for 2012, too.

It was as if Croydon Council was pretending that the Olympics were not going to be happening at the other end of the East London Line in 2012. Or maybe they had forgotten?

When asked about this oversight, the Council said that it was the responsibility of Fusion, our leisure services providers. When Fusion was asked about this, they said that they were working on a whole range of exciting activities. It was just, well, err, that they weren’t quite ready to say what they were just yet. But they would… soon!

When Fusion was asked why they were unable to submit their planned activities to LOCOG, together with most of the other London boroughs and local authorities around the country, by the deadline or before last month’s launch, they said they’d get back to us with a formal reply. We are still waiting…

So what fun, exciting and imaginative activities has Croydon Council and Fusion together got lined up to mark two years to go until the London Olympics?

According to LOCOG, the Games organisers, “Open Weekend is a series of exciting sporting, arts and cultural challenges taking place across the UK from Friday July 23 to Sunday 25.” [our italics]

How has Croydon/Fusion interpreted this?

“Beat the Lifeguard”: which sounds like they are trying to perpetuate Croydon’s unwanted reputation for street crime and thuggery.

Free access to the leisure centres’ gyms. A basketball session. Using a rowing machine. Errr, that’s it.

London’s bid for the Games was predicated on the city’s cultural diversity. Croydon, one of the capital’s most diverse boroughs, has no cultural events planned for the Olympic Open Weekend. A sort of anti-Cultural Olympiad.

Sara Bashford: at her leisure

“We want the Olympic Games to help us promote a lasting involvement with sport and physical activity,” says Sara Bashford, the Tory Councillor who was also responsible for deciding not to continue with free swimming sessions for the over-60s.

Bashford, who surely determines policy that contractors Fusion must follow, will need to be more active in engaging with the London Olympic organisers if Croydon is not to allow a once in a lifetime sporting and cultural opportunity to pass this borough by.

If you want to see what is going on elsewhere in London this Olympic Open Weekend, click here:

Here’s our Council’s press release [with a few notes added in brackets]….

Free activities are on offer at all four of Croydon’s leisure centres over the weekend of 23-25 July.

The weekend of taster sessions and challenges is part of a national drive [“part of”? Barely. More like a reluctant afterthought] to mark the two-year countdown to the London 2012 Olympics.

The centres are looking for the fastest person who can row 2,000m and there is a family triathlon challenge featuring cycling, swimming and running competitions [all good and worthwhile, and surely something that ought to be in place, week-in, week-out?].

“No one escapes the challenge,” [oooh, edgy] says Ian Farlane, sports and community development manager. “Even our lifeguards are lined up for swimming against all comers in the pool.”

For those interested in trying out resistance training there’ll be professional fitness and health advisors on hand to give introductions to using the gym so that people can try things out under the guidance of one of the trained coaches or instructors.  There’s also a wide choice of free sessions for youngsters – including basketball, gymnastics and trampolining [Tremendous. The school holidays are here – this is exactly what should be available as a matter of course].

Sara Bashford, cabinet member for customer services, culture and sport, said: “I’m really pleased that Fusion have put on such a wide range [Wide? Range? But don’t you just love the way she has passed the buck to Fusion?] of free activities. We’re confident that people will take up these challenges [exuding confidence, that’s meant to make her look good]. I hope they will also consider becoming members of one of the council’s leisure centres as a result. The Olympics and Paralympics are going to provide a legacy for the whole of the UK [she must have read that in the Daily Mail five years ago], and these free weekends [weekends, plural? Is she planning on offering the people of Croydon further free leisure sessions?] are one way of introducing people to new activities [What are the other ways, then, Sara?]. We want the Olympic Games to help us promote a lasting involvement with sport and physical activity.”

Free family swimming sessions will run at various times in the centre’s pools and the instructors will be on hand to offer guidance on stroke improvement or diving [“No Bombing! No Heavy Petting!”].

And if anyone has wondered just how fit they are and wants some tips on how to get fitter they can book into a free mini health-check with one of the gym instructors.  It only takes a few minutes and covers lung function tests and working out percentage fat as well as checking your Body Mass Index (BMI) and a simple assessment of cardiovascular fitness.

For more information visit or call 020 8689 5300.

The detailed sessions are as follows:

Thornton Heath Leisure Centre, 100 The High Street, Thornton Heath, London, CR7 8LF: Basketball taster sessions – Friday (All day); Triathlon gym challenge – Sunday (All day); Beat the Lifeguard – Sunday (All day); Inflatable Sessions – Friday, Saturday & Sunday (varying times).

South Norwood Leisure Centre, 164 Portland Road, South Norwood, London, SE25 4PT: Triathlon gym challenge – Sunday (All day); Beat the Lifeguard – Sunday (All day); Inflatable Sessions – Friday, Saturday & Sunday (varying times)

New Addington Leisure Centre, Central Parade, New Addington, Surrey, CR0 0JB: Gym challenge – Friday, Saturday & Sunday (All day); Beat the Lifeguard – Sunday (All day); Inflatable Sessions – Saturday & Sunday (13.00 – 14.00)

Purley Leisure Centre, 50 High Street, Purley, Surrey, CR8 2AA: Gym challenge – Friday, Saturday & Sunday (All day); Beat the Lifeguard – Friday (All day); Relay Float Race – Saturday (13.30 – 14.30)

So, there you have it. A structured approach to marking the two years to go countdown to the 2012 London Olympics, put together at considerable cost, and one that the Council and Fusion have clearly spent months in planning.

And not a reluctant afterthought that has been cobbled together with no cost and little effort at all. Oh no.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in 2012 Olympics, Activities, Croydon Council, Fusion, Leisure services, Purley Pool, Sara Bashford, Sport. Bookmark the permalink.

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