With the arrival of the Olympic flame from Greece on Friday, the countdown to the games has really begun.  And I'm looking forward to the torch coming to West Sussex in July.

It will pass through some of the villages on the western side of my constituency, including Petworth, Duncton and Westergate, on Monday 16 July.  In the late afternoon it will pass through Arundel, and the town is planning to give it a rousing reception.

When I visited Findon primary school on Friday, I heard how the children there are going to be involved in the festivities. 

They will join up to 1,000 children from 16 other schools in the Arundel and Angmering area for a parade that will precede the torch through the streets of the town.  Then, in the evening, they will be joining in a special celebratory event at Arundel Castle.

As I write, there are just 64 days to go until the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday 27 July.  The enthusiasm that we've already seem for the torch relay shows that this is not just an event for London.

Ticket sales have exceeded all expectations and have led to some disappointments.  The last tranche went on sale on Wednesday and I hope that people who missed out before have been luckier, as I was, with their final attempt.

Having failed before, I eventually managed to buy two tickets for a diving event in the evening, and I am excited about the prospect of going.

I know that there are some Olympic sceptics, but I'm definitely in the camp of those who are really looking forward to the games which I think will be great for our country.

I think the dedication and hard work that our Olympic sportsmen and women put in to compete at the highest level is inspirational.  They are a model to young people, both encouraging involvement in sport and demonstrating the commitment that is needed to succeed in life.

I'm also hugely looking forward to the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in just a week's time.  These and the Olympic and Paralympic games are another great opportunity to celebrate what's best in our country and the pride we have in being British.

Christopher N Howarth