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Her legacy lives on: Sport stars pay tribute to Dame Tessa Jowell

Britain’s sporting heroes have praised Dame Tessa Jowell for her part in bringing the Olympics to London.

Some of the biggest names in British sport have remembered Dame Tessa Jowell for her key role in bringing the Olympics to London.

Lord Sebastian Coe, former chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, said there would not have been a London 2012 without the contributions of Dame Tessa.

He said: “Tessa was not just a close friend, she was a life enhancer.

“Her contribution to the Olympic and Paralympic Games is easily defined – without Tessa there would have been no London 2012, and without Tessa they would not have been the success they were.”

Four-time Olympic gold medal-winning rower Matthew Pinsent said: “RIP Tessa Jowell – absolutely central to the effort to win and stage the Olympics and Paralympics in 2012. Her determination and sense of humour surrounding them was infectious.”

Chairman of the British Olympic Association Hugh Robertson explained that not only was Dame Tessa pivotal in bringing the Games to London, she was determined that it should be a force for regeneration in some of London’s most deprived areas.

He told the Press Association: “She did two things which were really important in that early stage.

“The first was she corralled the whole of the government behind the bid. She got the Treasury to agree to it, she got the Department of Media, Culture and Sport to do the work, she got the Transport Department to sign off the transport plans and so on – that in itself is a very considerable achievement.

“Related to that, she also raised the bar on the whole thing because we didn’t go for the simple solution, which would have been to bid with all of those stadia in the west of London, we could have used Twickenham, Wembley, Earls Court and probably Lords.

“She corralled government behind an east of London bid, she had to do that to get the support of the Mayor (of London), but actually the success of London in terms of regenerating Stratford directly comes from that decision. So that was a really key contribution.

“The second crucial thing she did when Labour were in power was setting the structure which delivered the Games, got the organising committee correctly set up and later on in the process put the Olympic Park legacy into place.

“It was a difficult enough process at the best of times, but that structure she put in place then weathered the financial crisis (of 2008) and then allowed us in the end to still deliver the Olympics on time and under budget.”

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Tessa Jowell with Olympic Gamesmakers at a rally to honour Team GB athletes in October 2012 (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Olympic rower and UK Sport chairman Dame Katherine Grainger said: “This is incredibly sad news. As with every other aspect of her life, Tessa was a much respected and loved figure within British sport.

“Her accomplishments are enormous but just as impressive is how she achieved them: with decency, determination, guts and grace.

“Others have already noted how there would have been no London 2012 without Tessa’s vision and drive.

“Tessa was a true believer in the power and inspiration of sport, for which all of us who benefited from her support and conviction will be eternally grateful. Her legacy lives on.”

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