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SBD Global/March 25, 2013/Olympics

London Athletic Clubs Are Struggling To Secure Funds And Sponsors Despite Olympic Glory

The Olympic triumphs of Gold Medalists Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and other British stars "have inspired a new interest in athletics," according to Doward, Heap & Norton of the London GUARDIAN. Last year, "the number of athletes over the age of 11 affiliated to English clubs rose by almost 10,000, to 130,000" -- but many of those clubs are facing a crisis as their funds run dry. The latest Active People survey "shows that two million adults now take part in athletics for at least 30 minutes a week." However, if you speak to people in the lower levels of the sport, "a less rosy picture emerges." Many of the clubs, "the incubators that produce the future Farahs and Ennises, are struggling." Most "have always operated on a shoestring, relying on the goodwill of volunteers to keep them going," but there are concerns that money and volunteers are disappearing just when they are needed most. London Athletics Chair Tony Shiret said, "The issue for most athletics clubs after the 2012 Games is that interest has undoubtedly increased. But the clubs have been underfunded for a very long time, the political will to support them has been lacking and the national governing bodies continue to be uninterested in volunteer-based clubs." Sponsorship "is another concern." Frozen food company McCain "has confirmed that it will not renew its five-year deal," that led to £5M ($7.6M) being invested in the lower levels of the sport, when it expires this year. Insurance giant and main supporter of athletics in Britain Aviva "chose not to continue its own sponsorship deal when it expired" in '12 (GUARDIAN, 3/23).
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Olympics, United Kingdom

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