The Olympic flame — it touches more than just our sporting heroes

OPEC Bulletin Commentary August-September 2012

The Summer Olympic Games have once again provided young people from across the globe with the chance to shine on the world stage, as well as reach out to the high set of values that has marked the evolution of mankind through the ages.

In the pursuit of excellence, the Games symbolise ambition, vision, self-analysis, commitment, hard work and perseverance. Very often, this happens in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles and with many sacrifices in aspiring young athletes' day-to-day lives. This can last years, as they seek to develop their skills, condition their bodies and sharpen up their competitiveness.

What is more, the challenges can be far greater for competitors from developing countries, who lack the necessary supportive training infrastructure and financial backing that may be available in richer nations.

Therefore, we congratulate all those young men and women from OPEC's Member Countries who took part in the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London at the height of the summer. Whether they won medals or not - and we applaud the wonderful achievements of those who did - they were all proud ambassadors of their countries and exemplified the well-known saying that is synonymous with the modern Olympic movement: "It's not the winning that matters, but the taking part." Just getting to an Olympic Games is a remarkable feat in its own right - let us not forget that.

This is, indeed, what life is all about - the constant quest for improvement, realising your true potential and making the best of things, whatever your starting point.

No group of athletes could have illustrated this better than those who took part in the Paralympic Games in the British capital just over a fortnight after the Olympic Games. The heroic feats of these young men and women, affected by severe disabilities, represented an astonishing expression of triumph over adversity and fired the imagination of the spectators who packed the stadiums to watch them compete.

Importantly, the breakthroughs witnessed in the sports arenas were matched by breakthroughs in understanding among the public at large about the many and varied challenges facing disabled people every single day.

Member Country athletes also excelled in the Paralympic Games, with several countries appearing high on the final list of gold medal winners. A feature on OPEC Member Countries' participation in both Games appears in this issue of the OPEC Bulletin.

While the Olympic and Paralympic Games were seen as big successes on the sporting front, their legacy has the potential to bear fruit much further afield. Their central focus is on youth and achievement in a highly competitive environment. The young people involved are like beacons that light up the path for the future of mankind. This is also true for the many millions of other potential high-achievers from every corner of the world, in both sporting and non-sporting circles.

They constitute the new generation that will steadily immerse itself into tomorrow's ever-challenging, constantly evolving, endlessly fascinating global landscape. They will inject heightened levels of freshness, vigour and enthusiasm into the future, together with firsthand knowledge of the latest skills and state-of-the-art technology and the initiative and drive to implement them.

These are the sort of people that our own industry, oil, needs to attract as it seeks to develop and expand in the future. The challenges here are enormous, with the OPEC World Oil Outlook's reference case scenario projecting 26 per cent world oil demand growth in 2010-35 and with significant volumes of the new supply being more expensive to bring onstream, coming from frontier areas or presenting other tough new technological challenges. In short, the industry requires the best young brains available, as well as the most committed individuals, if it is to meet the rising demand from consumers in a stable and sustainable way in the coming decades. There are plenty of such people around bursting with energy and eager for success, as we saw in London this summer.

Finally, while the Olympic flame may inspire athletes the world over, it also, in a more figurative sense, has a place in the hearts of all of us, as we look towards a healthier, fairer and more prosperous future for mankind.

OPEC Bulletin Aug-Sep. 2012

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