Like most people, I’ve been very much caught up in the Olympic fever as Team GB makes battle in the London Games. No-one could have predicted how well our brilliant athletes would do. Whilst we are currently only half-way through the Games, to have sustained third-place in the medals table, pipped to the post only by the US and China, whose competing athletes outnumber ours by miles, is a remarkable achievement.
I am truly proud of every member of Team GB, who have flown the flag for our nation in such a spectacular way. It’s also great to see East Londoners such as Perri Shakes-Drayton at the forefront of our efforts.
I want to build on these triumphs as we look to the next Games in Rio, and beyond. The amount of young sporting talent I see on a day-to-day basis as I visit schools across Tower Hamlets is truly immeasurable. But worryingly, the potential for this talent to prosper is under threat as the Conservative government has severely cut back on funding for school sports.
In doing so they have turned the clock back on a lot of good work done by the Labour government which saw the proportion of pupils doing two or more hours per week of sport in school rocket from 25% to 90%. This is before we even get to the disastrous decision to scrap Building Schools for the Future which was in the process of giving schools across the country state of the art sports facilities. And I was further shocked to read in this morning’s Guardian that the Tories have sold off 21 school playing-fields in the short time they’ve been in office.
I join former Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell in calling on the government to reverse these retrograde decisions. Only then will our budding young athletes be able to realise their true potential and keep up the amazing trajectory we’re seeing in London 2012, so that in future Games we can give the US and China a run for their gold!