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Step change in government sport policy needed, BOA says

  • 5 August 2012
  • From the section UK
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There needs to be a "step change" in sports policy so children inspired by Team GB's gold medals become future star athletes themselves, the British Olympic Association chairman has said.

Lord Moynihan was speaking before Andy Murray won gold in the men's singles tennis - GB's 16th of the Games.

He urged more funding of school sports and facilities to boost participation.

The government said its was aiming for a "lasting legacy" from the Games and wanted more children involved in sport.

At his morning press conference, Lord Moynihan paid tribute to Jessica Ennis and fellow GB team mates long jumper Greg Rutherford and 10,000m runner Mo Farah, both of whom won their events on Saturday.

GB athletes also took gold medals in rowing and cycling.

Lord Moynihan said the Games had already been a "fantastic success" in terms of urban regeneration and had resulted in some "outstanding" facilities.

But he added: "What is absolutely important and the focus for those in power is to make sure the thousands of kids right across the country... the able bodied and disabled, are not only inspired by sport... but that inspiration is translated into participation."

He said there needed to be a "focus on stronger schools sports policy, better facilities, more access to facilities" so the BOA could help develop young talent "and ultimately see the very best of them shining on the Olympic stage in the future".

"If you go round the schools and see what's happening in Australia and New Zealand, and if you see what's happened in Germany, a lot of these countries are really engaging schools as the centre-piece of their sport policy and linking with clubs so I'd like to see increased resources focused on school sport," added Lord Moynihan.

A government spokesman said: "We want a truly lasting legacy from these Olympics and a big part of that means more young people taking part in competitive sport.

"Schools are part of the answer - that's why we have set up the 2012 School Games competition. But more young people taking part in competitive sport can't be driven by top down Whitehall policies, as we have seen previously. It must be led by parents and communities creating a culture where competitive sports can thrive."

But Labour sports spokesman Clive Efford said that when his party was in government its policies "succeeded in getting more youngsters in state schools involved in sport to a level never seen before".

"All this was destroyed when [Education Secretary] Michael Gove announced that all funding for the School Sports Partnership would be cut," he said.

"It is a pity that Lord Moynihan did not join us then and help protect sport in state schools," said Mr Efford.

Meanwhile, Locog says some 5.1 million spectators have watched the Games at its venues so far, including more than one million visitors to the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London.

It said an estimated 2.5 million people were trying to get tickets every day with each of the recent releases.

In other developments:

'Greatest' moment

Earlier, wearing her gold medal as she sat alongside Rutherford at a news conference, Ennis admitted the events of Saturday night would be hard to top as it would probably "be one of my greatest moments".

She refused to be drawn on whether she would compete at the Rio Games in four years time but laughed off talk of a possible retirement.

The 26-year-old said the crowd in the Olympic Stadium was "incredible" and helped "push her along" towards gold.

Rutherford also praised the 80,000-strong crowd at the stadium, saying "it was the lift I needed to win".

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