Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Club Not Gang


I, like many people, enjoyed the Olympic Games it was interesting to watch many different Sports. Although some were not as interesting as others and I am sad to say my own Sport of Judo was one of them, as someone who has been involved in Judo for 53 years and as an Olympic Reserve for the 1980 Olympics, I had a job understanding what was happening so I dread to think what the public thought of it? As for Tae Kwon Do a Martial Art which involved all aspects of striking reduced to just Kicking very disappointing. It was also disappointing that the BBC did not give some coverage to other sports which are not so popular in the UK such as Free Style Wrestling and Greco Roman Wrestling the latter being in the ancient Olympics’.

The great thing was seeing so many Olympic medals for Great Britain this was due to millions of pounds being injected into Elite Sports people most which came from the Lottery. John Major the last Conservative Prime Minister has been congratulated by everyone for starting up the Lottery and listening to him on radio he said that Sport has a harmonising effect on the Country, he also said that Lottery money was as important to Grass roots Sports as well as Elite Sport but the most poignant quote was when he said “Sport encourages youngsters to join a Club not a Gang” I hope that will become a slogan for years to come. The Olympics has been a massive success for Team GB but the real success will be when we increase the number of people who participate in Sport for according to the British Olympic Association sports participation in GB has decreased by 20%. Remember Sport is not just for the young and elite but for everyone.

With the Olympics now open to professionals it does have a different dimension in success with medals up to 10 years or so ago to compete in the Olympics you had to be a total amateur, as reserve for Judo in the 1980 Moscow Olympics I can remember receiving money from a small group of club members who had organised a sponsored walk on behalf, I was told by governing body if I accepted the money I would jeopardise my amateur status and would not be considered for Olympic selection. My club held the money and would buy me equipment when needed. Most Olympic hopefuls would have to work, support a family and train about 5 hours a day, so for British Sportsman winning an Olympic medal was a win against all the odds and adversities.
Yet it the USA and Soviet Union would be professional in all but name the USA would have their athletes at College and the USSR athletes would be in the Military so the times had to change if we were to have an equal playing field but I wish it had come earlier as if I could have stopped on for another 4 years I may have come back an Olympic medallist. While on the subject of a fair playing field an article appeared in one of the National newspapers stating that when the Olympics were amateur it was fairer now with £Billions being poured into sport athletes from poor countries will be left out in the cold.

Martin Clarke Sittingbourne

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