Monday, 5 November 2012

British Olympic Association chairman Lord Moynihan: 'remarkable decade for UK sport'

“The Olympic Games were an outstanding and historic event for the UK” were the words of Lord Colin Moynihan last night as the University of Kent’s autumn series of open lectures headed to the Medway Campus.

In a poignant tribute to the London 2012 legacy, Lord Moynihan made his final public speech as British Olympic Association chairman, as he gets ready to pass the baton on to Lord Sebastian Coe.

Speaking to students, staff and members of the public, his lecture on ‘The Olympic Legacy from London’ touched on how his seven year stint as BOA chief had transformed the organisation into an “athlete-centred” body, firmly “focused on performance”.

The former politician and Olympic silver-medalist said: “Our objective was to earn more medals for more sports.” The Great Britain team came third in the medal table, with a total of 65 medals including 29 Gold’s, exceeding all targets made by the UK Sport government agency.

But with the Olympics now over, Lord Moynihan turned his attentions to the importance of the Olympic legacy, and how the main “objective is to improve sports in schools and education.”

He said: “Success of the Olympics Games needs to be a catalyst for a wider school sports agenda.”

His ideas echoed recent government policy, unveiled by Sport Minister Hugh Robertson, which will see £135million invested in sport facilities.

Other key policies include a £1billion investment over the next five years in the Youth Sport Strategy, to link sports clubs and schools together with the support of teachers, parents and the local community.

Speaking about the proposals, Lord Moynihan said: “Imagine the talent that is out there that we haven’t discovered.”

Arguing that money should be devolved from sporting quangos to local government and sports clubs, he said the way forward was for the cross-government promotion of sport.

He argued: “There are many departments of state in government who can help promote sport.”

During the lecture, he went on to praise the “girl power” of the Olympics, stating that a key feature of London 2012 was how “women led the way”. He argued that more access for women participation in sport  and more ‘top job’ opportunities for women in sporting organisations were vital.

He also added that the popularity of female presenters such as Clare Balding and Hazel Irvine should lead the way for a change of attitude in the media, stressing the need for more female editors and reporters.

Looking to the future of UK sport, he claimed that this decade would be “a remarkable decade for UK sport.” The UK has already won the rights to host more than 20 events, including the Rugby World Cup 2015, the Commonwealth Games 2014 and the World Athletics 2017.

And, as he hands over to Lord Coe on November 7, Lord Moynihan reflected that it had “been a massive privilege” to work at the BOA for seven years, but that he will "continue to argue strongly in the House of Lords for sporting legacy.”

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