From Beijing to London: the home front
With the medals counted and the flag handed over, The Leisure Review took a straw poll of the impact of the Olympic Games on the home front. Here we offer a selection of views from various perspectives on the leisure continuum.
Kim Wright, corporate director for community services, London Borough of Hackney
“Beijing 2008 and the handover to London as the next host city for the Games has certainly put sport in the spotlight, and nowhere more so than in east London. Hackney will host one third of the London Games; we want to use our role as a host borough to keep up the existing enthusiasm for sport. Hackney Council is investing in sports facilities and we have world-class venues included on the list of pre-Games training camps for London 2012. We are using the Youth Sports Fund to support the borough’s young sporting talent to excel and compete at the highest level. We want residents of all ages and abilities to enjoy fitter, healthier lifestyles inspired by 2012. Hackney is investing in sports programmes for old and young alike to help grow participation. These and other initiatives mean there are exciting opportunities for people working in and around sport.”
Tom Owen, student at Exeter University and keen sportsman:
“Beijing has left me with a sense of excitement but also trepidation for 2012. Doubtless, Team GB have done exceptionally to accrue the best British medal haul in a century. The important question is whether we can sustain this brilliant achievement and ensure that its not a peak but in fact only halfway to our full potential. By so dramatically exceeding expectations it could be possible that we have hit a ceiling one Games too early. I cannot realistically see us ever beating the Americans or the Chinese with their massive depth and breadth in college-level athletics and their huge population respectively.”
Steve Franks, operations director, Swimming Teachers’ Association
“Already local authorities are beginning to express their concerns over the free swimming scheme as part of the 2012 legacy, saying that if they sign up for the funding, they could be left having to find a considerable amount of extra money to fund the scheme. Councillor Peter Nutting, leader of Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council has even expressed his concerns publicly, saying, “We’ve got to think about it comprehensively across Shropshire. There are some opportunities, but also some difficulties… I am really worried that the cost of actually implementing the scheme, which sounds a wonderful idea, will be quite expensive – between £200,000 and £300,000 annually across Shropshire. That’s money that has got to come from the taxpayer. It does seem another case of the government putting forward a scheme which looks good, but taking money away with the other hand.” The announcement by government of £140 million sounds like a significant amount of money, and it is for swimming, which should be applauded. However, it is so vitally important that this one opportunity for investment over the next four years is spent wisely and is used to break down the barriers to participation, and to encourage and help more people to learn how to swim so they too can benefit from the opportunities this investment presents, thus becoming ‘more active’.”
Gayle Kerrison, coaching technical manager, England Squash
"I thoroughly enjoyed the whole Beijing thing but do feel a bit like a kid with her nose pressed up against a sweet shop window with no pocket money. If cash follows the medals non-Olympic sports are really going to feel the pinch, aren't they? Still we have the World Championships in Manchester in October and perhaps some of the journalists looking for the velodrome might pop in and we'll get a paragraph in a national paper."
The Leisure Review, September 2008
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