London 2012: legacy or lost participation?

London 2012 inspiration

London 2012: sporting legacy or lost participants from sport? Our writer Harriet takes a look into this hot sporting issue.

One of the principal reasons for winning the London 2012 bid was the focus on creating a legacy after the Games; to inspire the next generation of athletes and increase mass participation in sport and physical activity in the UK.

Former Olympic minister Tessa Jowell has spoken up about the failure of this legacy to inspire children to play sport, stating that they have been “robbed of the chance to discover a sport they’re really good at”.

On the other hand, the image of team GB touching down at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 brings a sense of pride and unity to a nation that has experienced discontent and division in recent months. We have had the most successful overseas Olympics ever, eclipsing the 47 medals won in Beijing.

Team GB came second in the medal table, and it is also the first time since the modern Olympic era began in 1896, that a country has increased its medal tally at the summer Games immediately following the one it hosted.

Team GB Olympics

Here at Average Janes we love a debate: has a sporting legacy been achieved, or are more of us preferring the couch to a cycling saddle?

London 2012: successful sporting legacy

Nobody can deny that the regeneration of east London was a success, with the Queen Elizabeth Park attracting locals and tourists daily.

A new generation of athletes are now in the limelight after the Rio Games, with the female 4x100m relay team all having been either volunteers or spectators at London – they are now bronze medal Olympians. The London 2012 Olympics was clearly a springboard of motivation for these talented sportswomen.

Cycling is still our most successful Olympic sport, with medals partly due to 20 years’ investment from Lottery funding and UK Sport.

Having witnessed team GB’s most successful 2-week spell of sporting excellence in Rio, it is very difficult to refute the idea that London 2012 has inspired the next generation of elite athletes.

London 2012 Olympics legacy

An inactive nation?

The reality is the London 2012 Games has not made us a nation of physically active children and adults. The original idea of increasing mass participation in sport and physical activity has not been achieved. Certain sports are seeing a major drop in participation, such as swimming and golf. Adidas and Nike are dropping their golf equipment production as a result. Swimming, although still the nation’s favourite activity, is seeing a rapid decline in people diving in.

£162 million of alleged ring-fenced money for school sport was axed in 2010. Ample funding was also wrongly directed to initiatives that were not making an impact on participation rates. In particular, lower socio-economic groups are not taking part in sport, with access and funding not reaching certain areas of the country. Whilst there is evidently a very robust elite sporting strategy in the UK, with a 29% increase in funding announced at the latest public spending review, there is obviously no national strategy for inactivity in sport. It appears that only one half of the original London 2012 Olympic Bid has been realised.

Olympics Legacy 2012

What do you think?

Can a one-off 15-day sporting spectacle change the attitudes of an inactive nation?

What’s your take on the debate – has Rio 2016 inspired you to become more physically active?

Let us know – @tweetjanes.