The Olympic Legacy – Athletics
As the venues for the 2012 games near completion, it may be opportune to raise again the subject of the Olympic Legacy. The views expressed here are based on common sense rather than any involvement with sport and concentrate on athletics as that appears to be the main problem area in the UK.
There are two systems evident in the years before the Beijing Olympics:
- The American Colleges and
- The Soviet military based system
Following the success of the Chinese a third, hybrid system became apparent. It appears that we may be trying to copy this in the UK but I think this is likely to fail as the British psyche is not in tune with the Chinese. Following the demise of Cosford it is apparent that we will not be pursuing the military option.
This leaves the US college based system as probably the best option for future development but we have not made much progress in grasping the nettle, probably due to the cost. Only Loughborough and Bath have focussed on sport as a subject in its own right and we need to build on this for the future.
I propose consideration of a new long term strategy which would bring about centres of sporting excellence in each region of the country which would compete with each other throughout the year. I propose that we build on the existing strengths of the athletics clubs and combine them with universities who would offer fully supported sports scholarships. The initial draft list could include:
- Loughborough University
- Bath University
- Birmingham City University and Birchfield Harriers
- Manchester University and Sale Harriers
- Brunel University, Crystal Palace with Enfield and Haringay AC
- Durham University and Gateshead AC
- Cardiff University and Cardiff AA Club or
Swansea University and Swansea Harriers
- Belfast University and Lagan Valley
- Glasgow University and Victoria Park
- Edinburgh University and Edinburgh Athletic Club
- Southampton University and Southampton Athletic Club
This list is centred around athletics as this is the main problem so I have not considered other specialist facilities e.g. sailing off Dorset, rowing at Holme Pierpoint and soccer at Burton.
In conclusion, I suggest that we proceed to develop a long term strategy based on the development of a national college athletics league with supported athletics scholarships. This would give a strong foundation and a structure for athletics in the UK for the next generation and a lasting legacy.