The Olympic ringmaster
MEET the Oxfordshire man behind the London Olympics.
Jason Prior was entrusted with turning 500 acres of derelict industrial space into London’s Olympic Park.
Last night Mr Prior, from Wantage, spoke about how “humbled” he was by the experience.
As chief executive of planning consultancy Aecom he has been devoting him time to every detail of the park for nearly 10 years.
The former King Alfred’s School pupil said: “It was a demanding workload to have, but being involved in this was an extraordinary opportunity. I feel humbled to have been part of it.
“It looks like people are enjoying it, but I have not managed to soak up the Olympics just yet.
“This was a massive team effort and now we are looking forward to what happens afterwards. I think it is a credit to our construction industry.”
Mr Prior grew up in Blewbury and Wantage with his two brothers. The 51-year-old went to school at King Alfred’s Community and Sports College before going on to university in Manchester.
Mr Prior, who is married with three children and lives near Faringdon, was a sports fan and played rugby for Oxfordshire under-18s.
Since then he has taken up hang-gliding as a past time, flying in two world championships for Great Britain.
The Olympic Park, which is in the London Borough of Newham, is home to the Olympic Stadium, the London Aquatics Centre, the London Velopark and the Olympic Village, where the athletes live.
After the Olympics it is intended to be turned into a mixture of housing, allotments and a new university.
Mr Prior said: “We entered the design competition back in 2003 to find the design team to put together the host city bid.
“The core to it then was establishing a legacy past the games and that the games were the first stage in a much bigger renovation of the area. From then on we have had to take our plan and turn it into what is out there now.”
The team he led was made up of about 200 people and they have been so successful that Mr Prior is now working on putting together the Olympic Park for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
He said: “We are again trying to get a major new city built on the site but it is very different to the London site and it has an emphasis on ecology.
“We are trying to make a site with local relevance so there is little chance of us doing the same project twice.”
His father, Brian, 79, still lives in Wantage and said: “We are very proud of him.
“I find it rather amusing that people like Jason do an extraordinary amount of work and it all seems to be missed.
“He didn’t have any interest in design or architecture while he was at school, but in his last two years at King Alfred’s art was one of his favourite subjects.”
- Oxford restaurateur Max Mason has been hobnobbing with the great and the good of the world of sport this week.
Mr Mason, who ran The Big Bang in Walton Street and founded the Oxford Jazz Festival, has been a diplomatic assistant at the London Games.
For the past couple of days he has been accompanying the Indian sports minister Ajay Maken to several of the events.
The 36-year-old said: “It has been fantastic, but I am very busy. “During a normal day I will collect the minister from the Savoy at 7am and then taken him to wherever the Indian Olympic team is competing.
“I have seen pretty much all the events, including the swimming, handball and shooting.”
Mr Mason has been introducing Mr Maken to dignitaries such as Princess Anne and Lord Coe.