The London 2012 Olympic Games have undoubtedly been a huge success both in terms of sporting achievement by the Great British team, but also in the fashion that is has been run, where no major incidents have happened. So with our most successful Olympics since 1908, what will the legacy be after it?
The whole premise for these games was to ‘inspire a generation’, which was one of the main reasons that London was named as the host city. The question that now arises is whether those strategies that have been put in place for the Olympics will truly have a positive impact upon inspiring people to get into sport and leave a legacy that the British public can be proud of leaving.
Before we even go into this aspect of the games, let’s step back and take a look at what the games has actually achieved in itself. The primary triumph of these games has been that equality between male and female athletes has improved somewhat with all nations involved in them having at least one female athlete in their team and also an increase in the numbers of sports that females can now participate in, such as boxing for women. Of course this is only a small step in the right direction, but it has enabled London to lead the way in some respects. Not only this, but there has been such an outpouring of support for the games from all corners of society that want to watch the games live from the differing venues across the country that there has barely been a free seat in the stadia after the first few days.
After previous games, UK Sport realised that the way to gain successes in differing sports was to create a programme that looked to work with both the athletes and the coaches since the Olympics in Sydney. The programme initially started off with a dependence upon foreign coaches training the athletes and then as the years went on more and more coaches from the UK came up to the level needed for the Olympics, which in turn has created the success that we have had at these Olympics. These successes of course wouldn’t have happened without the funding from the National Lottery Fund, which has developed training facilities across the country. A prime example of this would be the Lee Valley White Water Centre, where the teams of Baillee, and Stott, Florence and Hounslow trained before and went onto win gold and silver in the Men’s Canoe Double (C2). Of course this is at Olympic level, in terms of local sports centres; local councils fund the development of athletes in the form of keeping the centres and clubs afloat, so that they can get the best training possible. Where the problems occur are those who have the ability to progress the World Championships of their chosen sport to qualify for the Olympics, but can’t afford to go due to there being no funding or the families spend everything on the expenses, with no guaranteed result. This issue needs to be addressed, so that the Olympics board have more athletes to chose from as well increase the chances for medal opportunities in the future. Whether UK Sport channels money from the National Lottery Fund or some other means to do this, it would create a positive step forward.
In terms of instilling a love of playing sports at school level, it has been one of the major points of controversy after the event due to the coalition’s stance on the issue. A number of school playing fields have reportedly been sold off by local councils and the government have decided to scrap the idea of a set amount of time and focus on competitive sport in schools, so that more sports can be introduced to the children and produce Olympians of the future. Whatever your point of view on this, a compromise has to be made with this issue as a set number of hours would be beneficial to all children, so as to enable a fit and healthy generation even if they haven’t an interest in sport and there needs to be competitiveness and a range of sports so that they can go off and potentially join a club after, so that the future of British sport continues.
As with any sort of legacy, there will always be some short comings and therefore they need to be addressed if possible, so that a fuller plan can be bought around. If anything, all of the people behind the Olympics will hope that the great support from the nation and the amazing feats of the athletes will inspire people to get out and try a new sport or do more exercise. If UK Sport can gain more people competing in the upper echelons of their sport, the main aim to achieve third place or better each time and not end up as with the case of Australia, where they have had a lapse and ended in 9th twelve years after they held the Sydney Olympics.