London

Tessa Sanderson's London 2012 Olympic legacy fears

Former Olympic champion Tessa Sanderson has expressed concerns about the future of athletics at the Olympic Stadium.

When London was awarded the 2012 Games, targets were set for more Londoners to participate in athletics.

But Ms Sanderson, who resigned from the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) last month, said: "I'm not sure about the legacy of what's going to happen in the stadium for athletics."

The OPLC said: "Tessa has made a valuable contribution as board member."

"The combination of her experience as a distinguished Olympian and her passion for community sport has been a great source of support in helping to make the Olympic Park Legacy Company successful," the OPLC added.

In February, the OPLC board selected West Ham United and Newham Council as its preferred bidder for the Olympic Stadium ahead of an offer from Tottenham Hotspur and AEG.

The successful bid - which included leaving the running track intact - was judged to provide the best legacy for the stadium and approved by the government last month.

Ms Sanderson was excluded from that vote, despite her protests, due to a perceived conflict of interest because she had a personal consultancy contract with Newham Council.

The javelin gold medal winner at the 1984 Olympics said: "From the decisions that have been made, it's about football.

"How are the two (athletics and football) going to marry together? I'm not sure how that's going to work."

'Community benefits'

Asked if she was not sure if a track and field legacy would be achieved, she responded: "That's absolutely right."

Ms Sanderson, who quit the OPLC on 22 March, continued: "If you can find £40m to pump into a football legacy, the tens of thousands that we're asking for community and athletics - I find it extraordinary for that not to happen."

When asked what she thought this said about Newham Council's commitment to legacy, she said: "They haven't got it right."

A council spokeswoman said: "Our joint stewardship of the Olympic Stadium with West Ham FC will bring significant community benefits for people in Newham, across London and in the wider country.

"It will be a fitting platform for a wide range of sports, including football and athletics, as well as cultural and entertainment events.

"We are determined to secure a lasting athletics legacy from the Olympic Games.

"We remain committed to invest in athletics, from grass roots through to the award-winning Newham Athletics Network.

"We will also continue to provide bursaries and coaching for talented young sports people."

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