Residents of Great Britain and Northern Ireland can’t fail to have noticed the hype over the nation’s success at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Team GB finished second in the medal table – beating China for the first time since 1984.
Building on success at London 2012, the British team gained even more medals than at its home games four years ago. More excitingly still, a large proportion of these medals were won by northerners.
The facilities in Manchester have contributed to a fair share of Team GB’s glory: the city is home to British Cycling and GB Taekwondo, both of which brought home medals for the country. A number of notable sportspeople from different disciplines also hail from, or live in, the city.
Over the county border, too, many Yorkshire Olympians had cause to celebrate, with an impressive number of golds, silvers and bronzes being won by the county’s athletes.
Over the past four years, Great Britain has invested £350 million in Olympic sports, a venture which has been funded largely by the National Lottery. Now, broadcaster Melvyn Bragg has raised the question of whether ploughing a similar level of investment into the north of England could improve the nation’s economic fortunes.
The future of our country is facing some uncertainties, of course, after the Brexit vote in June, and Bragg believes that putting money into the northern economy could help Britain as a whole to remain strong: ‘The future of the North depends on investment and training’.
Part of this vision of a more powerful North relies, of course, on further development of the Northern Powerhouse.
This, together with a continued emphasis on tourism, culture and sport, could help the North to make its mark in terms of giving Britain an economic boost while the terms of Brexit are negotiated.
Given the seeming importance of northern England in the future of the nation, then, it’s fitting that Manchester has been selected as the venue for an Olympic victory parade this autumn, after the Paralympics have taken place. It is hoped that the Paralympics will lead to more British successes that our nation can be proud of – and a few northern medals wouldn’t go amiss!
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