Author: Renee Israel
After a jittery start to the Olympics, where even we bemoaned the lack of
gold medals for Team GB, it seems that our local sportsmen and women are riding
on the wave of success and bagging medal after medal.
While it would be nice to put the 38 (and counting) medals down to crowd
adoration, home advantage or other sentimental, albeit worthy, reasons, it
really all boils down to one hard and crucial fact - Britain's sports teams got
a lot more funding than any previous Olympic Games and we are starting to reap
It was estimated this week that Great Britain spent around £4.6 million to
get an athlete to the podium, which is an unprecedented amount spent on
individual sportsmen and women.
London invested an enormous amount of money on its teams and athletes when it
won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics, raising the £70 million spent to send its
team to the Athens Games in 2004 to more than triple that for the Beijing Games.
This sum grew even more for the London Games, much in part due to the
generosity of the UK National Lottery which not only promised, but also
delivered literally millions of pounds through revenue earned from selling
lottery tickets and scratch cards.
National Lottery Credited for Olympic Success
There is no doubt that we have to take our hats off to the National Lottery
for its incredible investment in the London Summer Olympics of 2012.
Beth Twaddle, who became the first British woman to take home a medal for
individual gymnastics in the history of our participation in the games, was
quoted as saying that the National Lottery funding had made a "massive"
difference to her success.
Of the 542 competitors who make up Team GB, a staggering 90% have benefitted
directly from National Lottery funding - certainly a momentous investment in the
grand scheme of things.
Lack of Funding Leads to Poor Results
If ever the need for ongoing Olympic sport investment in our sportsmen
and women was questioned, one only need to look at Australia as an example of
where NOT to go.
Australia's poor performance in the current Olympics has been put down by the
Australian Olympic Committee to lack of government spending, with the committee
bemoaning the fact that funding was literally cut in half several years ago.
From coming within the top six countries in the total medal tally in the last
three Olympics, Australia is currently trailing at a dismal 13th spot - behind
countries such as Kazakhstan and Hungary.
There are no two ways about it: Olympic success requires funding. Look at
examples of some of the poorest countries out there such as Ethiopia, where
there is simply no way to create champion athletes in certain sports. It would
be rather difficult to see an Olympic swimmer emerge from a country which
'boasts' one swimming pool for every six million people.
In fact, sports analysts have identified four sports where there is no
practically chance of every producing a medal from a poor or developing country,
namely sailing, swimming, cycling and equestrian. All these need more than raw
talent. They require equipment, investment and funding - something impossible to
attain if there is no money forthcoming.
The bottom line is that if the UK government and the National Lottery don't
want to see Team GB come near the type of status drop in the next Olympics as
experienced by Australia this time around, they need to continue investing in
British sport - even, and perhaps especially, beyond London 2012.
Posted by Renee Israel at 08:03 on 9 August 2012