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Basking in the golden glow of Olympic glory

PUBLISHED: 12:11 22 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:19 07 September 2010

FAILURE is an orphan, but success has many fathers. Even former Prime Minister John Major has been credited with contributing to Team GB s outstanding medal haul in the Olympics, though it is difficult to see how any leading politician can bask in the ref

FAILURE is an orphan, but success has many fathers. Even former Prime Minister John Major has been credited with contributing to Team GB's outstanding medal haul in the Olympics, though it is difficult to see how any leading politician can bask in the reflected glory.

Sporting facilities in this country are still pretty abysmal. Millions of acres of playing fields have been exchanged for the developer's shilling, and there was a time in the not-too-distant past when politically correct zealots were trying to convince the nation that the promotion of sporting competition in schools is the work of the devil.

In terms of poor sporting facilities, Manchester's excellent velodrome - built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games - is an exception to the rule. Surprise, surprise: this world class facility has helped to produce world class competitors and it is no coincidence that the UK's cyclists, including Maida Vale's Bradley Wiggins, have brought back a magnificent haul of medals.

This unexpected level of success has whetted the nation's appetites for 2012. The organising committee couldn't have asked for more from a team which is currently occupying third place in the medal tables. For those who are being called on to justify the staging of the Games in London, the success of the British performers in Beijing is a PR dream come true.

The weather has been as miserable as the economic outlook this summer but our athletes have given us something to cheer. Suddenly, everyone is looking forward to 2012 with enthusiasm. This wouldn't have been the case had Team GB just managed to stay among the top ten medal-winning nations, as was the case in Sydney and Athens.

Furthermore, the fear that our athletes would be little more than cannon fodder for the Chinese, the Americans, the Russians and the Aussies when the Games come to London, has largely evaporated - along with much of the cynicism surrounding the event.

This doesn't apply, however, to Cllr Jenny Jones of the Green Party Group on the London Assembly. As the capital city looks forward with eager anticipation to hosting this magnificent spectacle in four years' time, Cllr Jones fears that a huge opportunity will be missed unless the Games deliver more public sporting facilities in every borough, living wage jobs for local workers and a large scale renewable energy regeneration programme.

Amid all the feelgood excitement generated by British success, she is right to sound a cautionary note about the practical implications of hosting the Games - but does so at the risk of going down in history as the first politician to jump off a bandwagon.


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