We must capitalise on
feel good factor from 'unforgettable' Olympics
THE OLYMPICS have been hailed as
'unforgettable' by Newham's Mayor Sir Robin Wales - who says the
challenge now is to capitalise on the feelgood factor through
grassroot sport investment.
Sir Robin Wales said: "This is one of those rare moments
when I can be sure that I speak for everyone when I say that the
London 2012 Games - two thirds of which are taking place in Newham
- have surpassed all our expectations so far.
"It's been an incredible and unforgettable Olympic fortnight
that started with the spectacular opening ceremony.
"There's also been an Olympic effort by council staff who have
been working round the clock to keep the borough clean and working.
Plenty of residents have been able to cheer on our team, including
more than a 1000 young people. Nationally, around one in 10 people
got a ticket to the Games. For Newham residents, that figure is
roughly one in six so far.
"We've achieved this by working with the organisers and lobbying
them on residents' behalf. No other borough has done better.
Newham athletes have been a critical part of the greatest-ever
Sir Robin added: "Funding grassroot sports is the key to
ensuring the incredible success of the Olympics continues long
after the flame is extinguished."
His message comes as David Cameron announced funding for Olympic
sports has been guaranteed until the 2016 Games in Rio de
UK Sport will receive £125 million annually for the next four years
to maintain funding at the same level as the run-up to London, the
Prime Minister said.
Sir Robin continued: "Newham athletes, including Mo Farah and
Christine Ohuruogu, have played a pivotal part in ensuring a
record-breaking gold medal haul for Team GB. The question now is
how we ensure that success continues as part of the Games
"The danger is that when the Olympic flame is extinguished, the
hard work and energy that has been created will be extinguished
with it. We cannot spend the next four years arguing over who funds
"The coalition's announcement sounds good - but it comes in the
context of free sports activities, including swimming, being axed
across the country. Here in Newham, despite being hit by one of the
biggest central government grants cuts suffered by any local
authority, we have continued to provide free swims for
"We want to ensure inner London boroughs like Newham get their
fair share of the funding and that it doesn't just go to the leafy
Sir Robin also said: "Elite sport stars start at local level so
we're already doing our bit with programmes like Every Child a
Sportsperson which is giving young people a golden chance to
participate in sport. Success must not be limited to an elite few.
We are committed to our youngsters and want them appearing in
sports stadiums - including the Olympic Stadium in Newham - for
years to come.
"Let's not forget too that it was the coalition that slashed
funding for school sports partnerships, which had helped to
increase the quality and range of sport available in schools.
"It's important to ask where this new funding will go to. It's
all about creating a strong infrastructure and capitalising on the
Games' feel good factor. We want to harness that inspirational
power to encourage people to get involved in their local
communities, whether it's through sporting activities or
"I know the Paralympics will now amaze and inspire everyone all
over again. It isn't over yet and so let's make the most of
Newham Council already has a series of events and programmes
running to develop a lasting local legacy.
- Every Child a Sportsperson and summer sports programmes for
- BMX programme with Access Sport
- Free swimming for under-16s and a commitment that a six-borough
gala will be the first community event at the Aquatics Centre
- Direct support and partnerships with local clubs such as Newham
& Essex Beagles, West Ham Boxing Club and Newham Swords fencing
- A community athletics programme including 10 'Run England'
groups with 890 members
- 343, disabled participants taking part in clubs and
- 1,335 previously inactive people doing athletics at least once
- 40 Active coaches
- 174 Active volunteers