Katarina Johnson-Thompson – The new symbol for a new Liverpool?

The flag is, of course, the flag of our nation. But more important than being British or English Katarina Johnson-Thompson is a Scouser!!

I woke up this morning and was delighted to hear the stupendous results of Katarina Johnson-Thompson is winning gold in the World Championships last night. Others were even more excited. I understand that Joe Anderson stayed up to watch the final parts of the event.

The heptathlon, as its name suggests combines seven events

To become World Champion Katarina gave personal best performances in 4 of them in Doha.

I believe that Katarina embodies all the best attributes of Liverpool today.

She comes from an ethnic minority background at a time when the Council has elected its first BME Lord Mayor. What great proof that Liverpool is really the “World in one City”

She has overcome difficulty after difficulty but never gave up. That’s Liverpool all over. We have had a lot thrown at us over the past 100 years but we’re still here and still fighting!

She embraced European help to ensure that she won so her medal is a combination of efforts from people from a number of nations. Proof of what the vast majority of us in Liverpool say that we are a major European City and we will get the best from our City if we work together with our European partners.

She won as we are all determined that Liverpool should do. We can become the first Council to encourage the Government to radically the alter the way that the public sector does business. We can become the best council for fighting climate change. The Council has united on a cross-Party basis on both these vital issues.

One of our most famous monuments is ‘Liverpool Resurgent’ on the former Lewis’ Building. Otherwise known, of course, as Dicky Lewis. Wouldn’t it be marvellous if a strong young woman Scouser of Africa Descent became the new face of a resurgent Liverpool?

Finally, she is a sports person and could provide a huge encouragement to young people in our City to similarly get involved. Sport can be fun and massively improves your physical and mental health. Not everyone can be a World Champion, but we can all take up a stretching physical challenge and help ourselves by doing so. The 2012 London Olympics were great in themselves but failed to leave much, if any, of a sporting legacy. Liverpool can do better than that.

I don’t want to take things forward by suggesting that we create a fund to build a statue.  I do think that there some more practical things that the Council could do both to honour her achievements.

We could work with Sports England to set up a training programme to support young athletes in Liverpool emulate her greatness. Katarina has had huge family support in addition to her own resilience and guts. Not every would-be champion has that support. Training, going to amateur tournaments etc is very expensive and not everyone can find that financial support. What can we do to help?

We should also consider either admitting her to the role of Citizen of Honour or award her the Freedom of the City not only in tribute to her but as a sign that Liverpool is on the move. That will send out a huge positive message about the forward-looking nature of our City and many of the people who come from it.

These are my thoughts. You might have more and better ones! Let me know as ever at richardkemp68@yahoo.co.uk

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About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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