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London 2012 Olympics: David Cameron says too many top British athletes went to public school

Published: July 5, 2012 | 12:54 pm
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Too many successful British athletes went to public school, David Cameron has said.

The Prime Minister questioned why it was that independent schools accounted for “more than their fair share of medal winners”. He said: “We’ve got to change that.
In a major speech, he said that this month’s Olympics in London could be used to break down barriers which stop poorer children from becoming elite sportsmen.
He pointed to the backgrounds of British athletes who are tipped for gold at this month’s Olympics, such as runner Mo Farah and cyclist Victoria Pendleton.
He said: “I’m not claiming one Olympics will turn every child into tomorrow’s Mo Farah or Victoria Pendleton. But just look where our great athletes have come from: Seb Coe started running with the Hallamshire Harriers. Amir Khan started boxing at Bury ABC.”
He continued: “Sport can change lives. So why is it that in so many schools sport has been squeezed out and facilities run down?

“The result is that independent schools produce more than their fair share of medal winners, and too many children think taking part in sport just isn’t for them. We’ve got to change that.”
The Prime Minister’s comments follow complaints by Michael Gove that private school pupils are increasingly dominating positions of wealth, power and influence in Britain because of a “profoundly unequal” education system. He singled out sport, acting, comedy, music and the media.
Mr Cameron said he wanted to increase the number of after school sports clubs at secondary and primary schools from 7,500 to 13,500 by 2015.
He added: “It’s not just about helping young people develop a sporting habit for life. We’ve got to nurture the best talents for the future, too. It’s fantastic that more than 14,000 schools signed up to the Olympic-style School Games programme in its first year.
“And that 1,600 of our best young athletes took part in the inaugural School Games finals at the Olympic Park a couple of months ago.
“I want to see that competition grow, to become a fixture in the lives of young people in this country.”
Mr Cameron used the speech to bang the drum for Britain and encourage people to celebrate the success of the Games.
Mr Cameron said no other country in the world could have organised a better Games.
He said: “Our national character can be quite self-deprecating but there there’s no need to think that anyone or any country could have done these games better.
“We are doing these games brilliantly and we are doing them in Britain. Now we need to go beyond the question ‘can we stage an outstanding Olympics and Paralympics?’ because I believe we can and we will.”
Mr Cameron said he wanted the UK to “break records” in the legacy of the Games.
He said he expects the Olympics and Paralympics to boost the UK’s economy by £13 billion over the next four years – far more than the £9.5billion cost of the Games.
He said he had asked the British Olympic Association and the International Olympic Committee to relax marketing rules and let firms boast about their work at the Games.
Mr Cameron added that he was convinced that despite other Olympic cities failing to find uses for Olympics facilities there would be “no white elephants” in London.
He said: “With mix of permanent and temporary facilities, we will only be left with what we can use. We mean what we say when we say no white elephants.”
Mr Cameron added that Britons should not see the Olympics as a luxury that the UK cannot afford.
He said: “We shouldn’t see them as an expensive luxury in tough times. It is precisely because times are tough that we have got to get everything we can out of them to support jobs and growth in the economy.
“And that’s my mission for London 2012. Because we have built the solid foundations for a successful games, we are able to focus our efforts on making sure they are a boost for Britain. It’s what I’ll be devoting my energy to – making sure that we turn these games into gold for Britain.”
“Our inspiration for this should be the Festival of Britain in 1951, which was a showcase of national enterprise and innovation. Now, as then, we need to drum up business for Britain. Sell Britain to the world on the back of British success.”


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