Olympic stars hit back at Cameron and Gove over slashing of sports budgets

A raft of Olympic stars past and present have warned the government against cutbacks to school sport and the slashing of elite sport funding.

A raft of Olympic stars past and present have warned the government against cutbacks to school sport and the slashing of elite sport funding.

Sir Chris Hoy and Dame Kelly Holmes yesterday led calls for David Cameron and Michael Gove to reconsider their downgrading of school sports budgets and targets, predicting dire consequences for future Team GB success if investment is cut from schools right the way up to elite level.

Hoy, record British six-time Olympic champion, told this morning’s Independent:

“Fifteen years ago the lottery funding came in and it was the whole catalyst for the team’s success, the starting-point. When [coach] Peter Allen came in and said he had this dream that we could be the best national team in the world, we thought he was mad.

“The heated hotpants we use, you know [to maintain muscle temperature], they’re a great example of the importance of funding. That would never have happened were it not the opportunity to invest in finding these things out…

“Laura [Trott], you know, she’s 20, she’s only known the team since after that happened. Me and Jason Quealy, and some of the others, remember when it was run on a shoestring budget. It was very different, and we weren’t anywhere near as successful.”

Trott herself said:

“Funding is very important – it is the key to our sport, really. We would be lost without it.”

With London 2012 double trap shooting gold medallist Peter Wilson adding:

“Without lottery funding I would not be here.”

On the school sport debate, meanwhile, double 2004 Olympic gold medallist Holmes yesterday tweeted:

“A few tweets about school sport again today so my view for what its worth:PE compulsory min 2 hours,Designated Primary school PE teachers & make stronger links between schools,communities & sport clubs. Investment to filter down to grass root sport from elite end.”

Holmes was responding to the latest Tory dissecting of state school sport, with the news education secretary Michael Gove is axing targets requiring all schoolchildren to take part in at least two hours of sport every week, and has approved the sale of more than 20 school playing fields since coming to power.


See also:

Cameron blames teachers over school sport – ignoring his cuts and playing field sell-offs 8 Aug 2012


Former Tory prime minister Sir John Major has also joined the calls for more investment, saying he regrets not channelling lottery money into school sport:

I believe every child has the right to a physical education as well as an academic education, but over the last 40 years that has fallen away…

“One of the things that I bitterly regret that I wasn’t able to do as prime minister was to utilise money to put a full-time sports teacher in every secondary school and in each cluster of primary schools.”

Olympic heroes, a former Tory leader, teachers, parents, pupils and future sports stars… how many more voices must be raised in opposition to the slashing of school and elite sport before Cameron, Osborne and Gove listen, reverse the cuts and reinstate the targets.

Just imagine how much higher Team GB could soar if talented, driven state school boys and girls enjoyed even a fraction of the sporting resources, expertise and opportunities offered to private school pupils.

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