South Wales Guardian Opinion
6:00am Wednesday 8th August 2012 in News
DESPITE earlier negative publicity and the forecasts of the doom merchants, what a spectacle the London Olympics are proving, with each day producing a clutch of GB medals and myriad inspiring stories.
Which all bodes well, you would think, for future sporting stars already looking ahead to the Rio Olympics of 2016 and beyond.
Or does it? Amid the current flagwaving euphoria, it is easy to overlook the fact the Government has conceded that school sports provision is “patchy”.
After the Olympics are over the task must surely be to boost participation on the back of Team GB’s Olympic success – but how can that be tackled in this age of austerity?
Our swimmers may have flopped, but the performances of Britain’s female rowers at Eton Dorney have been phenomenal.
However, the long-running issue of the number of girls who ditch sport once past the age of 16 remains the elephant in the room.
While the old maxim “catching them young” is as true now as it ever was, whether a talented youngster comes under the wing of an inspirational teacher remains a matter of luck.
More than half the gold medals won by British athletes at Beijing were claimed by former private school pupils – yet just seven per cent of the UK population are educated privately.
Claims that this results solely from a non-competitive ethos fostered by leftwing councils are laughable.
Lord Moynihan, head of the British Olympic Association, was right to brand this: “One of the worst statistics in British sport.”