Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Turin Must Act as a Wakeup Call to 2012

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Why Turin Must Act as a Wakeup Call to 2012

Article excerpt

Byline: ADRIAN WARNER

THE next time British competitors step into an Olympic arena, there can be none of the rows about funding which has raged behind the scenes during the Turin Winter Games.

In just two years at the end of the next Summer Olympics in Beijing, the London Mayor - Ken Livingstone if he has won the 2008 mayoral election - will be handed the Olympic flag, the national anthem will be played and Britain will have just four years to get both the capital and the GB team ready for the 2012 London Olympics.

This is a sobering thought. The timetable is tight if Britain is to develop a new generation of competitors capable of winning an array of medals at London 2012.

Chancellor Gordon Brown is under pressure to announce the [pounds sterling]500million package needed to support them as soon as possible. The British Olympic Association took a team to Turin still waiting to hear which sports will be funded for London 2012.

There is a danger that the political squabbling over the issue - involving BOA chairman Lord Moynihan, sports minister Richard Caborn and his Tory shadow Hugh Robertson - will force further delays.

Britain's only medal at the Turin Games

from skeleton racer Shelley Rudman should act as a wakeup call to all this.

We hardly stamped our authority on Olympic sport with 21st-equal place in the medals table in Italy. When the next Winter Games are held in the Canadian city of Vancouver in 2012, the GB Team are going to need to be performing far better.

China, the 2008 Summer Games hosts, for example, are hardly a winter sports superpower. But over the last 12 years, they have transformed their performances at the Winter Games from three medals in Lillehammer in 1994 to 11 in Turin.

If London 2012 is going to live up to its promise of using the Olympics to inspire children to take up sport, British competitors are going to need to be showing dramatic progress by Beijing in 2008 and Vancouver in 2010. …

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