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SBD Global/August 8, 2012/Olympics

LOCOG Chair Coe Says Compulsory Sport In Schools Will Help U.K. Athletics Stay Strong

LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe said compulsory sport in schools will help U.K. athletics remain viable.
LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe has “demanded more compulsory sport in schools to capitalise on the enthusiasm generated by the Olympics and to stop Britain's stunning successes from being a flash in the pan,” according to Morris & Milmo of the London INDEPENDENT. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and cabinet ministers are “now under intense pressure to reverse some of their planned cuts to sports spending, in an effort both to increase participation rates and to improve the nation's health.” Coe said, "School sport and legacy, this is (an) opportunity. This is never going to come around again. It is the vehicle of our lifetime. There is inevitably a limited window. ... We need the things in place to capitalise on that spike in interest" (INDEPENDENT, 8/7). In London, Paul Kelso noted London’s bid to host the Games was “based on a promise to deliver a legacy,” but Coe and LOCOG Deputy Chair Keith Mills have “warned the opportunity has to be grasped if the Games motto, ‘Inspire a Generation,’ is not to prove an empty slogan.” Coe: “The government need to do what they are doing and recognise that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Debate around the legacy impact of the Games has “increased in recent days in the wake of the British team’s success, with a focus on the limited opportunities in state schools.” Mills called for change in the country's "approach to sport, with a new national strategy to capitalise on the Games effect across all the major departments including health, education, home office and culture." Mills: "Immediately [after] the Games are over, we need to develop a national sports strategy. Let’s pull together the main departments in government and agree a national strategy. And agree on how we deliver it" (TELEGRAPH, 8/6).

COLLEGE YEARS: In London, Chris Cook reported that "universities are the background to much great British sporting history," from Roger Bannister's four-minute mile at Oxford's Iffley Road track to Sebastian Coe's Olympic Gold Medals, won after years of training at Loughborough. Head of Sports at Loughborough Chris Earle said that "university facilities are so good in so many places, ordinary student life may be the best way for many potentially elite athletes to train, rather than through a club." He said, "Eighteen to 22 is a critical time. They're learning if they've got what it takes to be the best. But they're also getting an education. If they become injured, or when they retire, they have an education to fall back on" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/7).

TIME TO CELEBRATE: In London, Matthew Taylor noted Team GB officials have confirmed that “hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to line the streets of London for an Olympics victory parade in September.” All of Team GB “will be invited to take part in the event that will wind its way through the centre of the city” on Sept. 10. Organizers said that the parade will “give fans and competitors the chance to celebrate together.” The parade is “expected to pass through the City of London and on to Trafalgar Square before arriving at the Queen Victoria monument in front of Buckingham Palace where the athletes will congregate for the finale” (GUARDIAN, 8/7).
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