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Page last updated at 09:45 GMT, Tuesday, 27 July 2010 10:45 UK
Essex Olympian tips London 2012 to produce future stars
Opening ceremony of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics
Eric competed in the 1956 Melbourne Games and then Rome four years later

A two-time Olympian from Essex hopes the London Olympics will inspire a whole new generation of sport stars.

Eric Hall from Layer Bretton competed in the 1956 and 1960 games in the 50k and 20k race walking events.

As he prepared to mark the 50th anniversary of the Rome games, he told BBC Essex of his excitement for 2012.

"I think it's a great opportunity for us to show what we can do and also to encourage the youth of the country to do things," he said.

"I'm absolutely amazed when I'm on the train past Stratford at the amount of work that's going on there.

He added: "I would certainly go and see the road walk and to mix with the people around - hopefully we'll have a reunion centre there and meet up with some old friends."

Eric represented Great Britain in the 50km walk in Melbourne in 1956 and the 20km in Rome four years later.

Two-time Olympian Eric Hall
Eric continues to closely follow athletics and is keen to get a ticket for 2012

This August sees the 50th anniversary of the Games of the XVII Olympiad in Italy and he will be among around 40 members of the GB team meeting in Much Wenlock next month to mark the occasion.

He also hopes to travel to Rome at the end of August to be part a special reunion of competitors from around the world.

"We've got about 130 members of the team who I write to, though keeping in touch can be a bit different because they're spread all over the world," said Eric.

"We had a reunion in Australia for the 50th anniversary of 1956 and there were people there from all over the place," he added.

"[They were from] countries who didn't even exist in those days or weren't separated, such as Russia, Estonia, Latvia and all the rest."

The Olympic Park at Stratford
The 2012 Games will be vastly different to the ones Eric competed in

Eric believed the two Olympic Games he was involved marked a turning point in them becoming the worldwide event it is in the 21st century.

"There was little commercialism. [In 1956] there was no television, the BBC didn't get the contract and there wasn't television in this country - though there was a very fine film of it afterwards," he said.

"At Rome it was just about starting [to be more commercial], there were more sponsors about and was the first fully televised, fully broadcast one.

"It was probably just picking up then, but later when it went to Tokyo and so on, it had to be sponsored."



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