May 22 2013 Latest news:
Rehman Chishti, Tory MP for for Gillingham and Rainham
Friday, August 17, 2012
Coming third in the medals table is impressive – our next challenge should be to come top of the global sports participation table
London 2012 has been a phenomenal success. The organisation has been slick, the broadcasting world-class and Team GB has produced some of the most sensational performances in history. And we have the Paralympics in two weeks which I’m sure will prove to be just as inspirational.
Kent and Medway have also benefited from this success. Medway Park, in my constituency, hosted the athletic team from the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Egyptian boxing team. And it is holding the British Transplant Games at the end of the month.
For me however, the end of the Games is only the start of our Olympic and Paralympic journey. Like most, I see the Games as a catalyst to inspire a generation into sport. That was what was so compelling about winning the bid in 2005.
Since being elected as the Member of Parliament for Gillingham and Rainham, I have made it my personal mission to understand what is being done to make the most of the opportunity; what I have learnt, is that sport is doing a remarkable job but many myths still exist.
While the debate goes on about how to best deliver sport in school, the power of the School Games is taking affect. In its very first year 12,000 schools signed up and 100,000 children took part. A phenomenal achievement in such a short space of time.
While outdated views continue with the suggestion that playing fields are still being sold off at a detrimental rate, the Government is further progressing Sir John Major’s vision for protecting playing fields. In March it was announced that local communities can now designate extra protection from development for green spaces of special significance. This is in addition to Sport England’s continued investment in playing fields - 109 pitches were created or upgraded in the last 12 months.
And while some question the capability of the sports themselves to cope with the sudden surge in interest, sport is capitalising on the Games’ advert by running come and try events, introducing variations of their sport and mobilising their clubs like never before. Since the start of the Games, over 250 people have been joining British Cycling every day, England Volleyball has reported an 850 per cent increase in traffic to its site since the start of the Games, and several thousand people have played tennis at the Live Sites at Victoria Park and Hyde Park. The sporting offer is more advanced and individualised than ever, which is why over one million more people are playing sport once a week since the bid was won in 2005.
In Medway we have many excellent sporting facilities and opportunities. One of our local achievements has been the Medway Mile, which is now going to continue for a seventh year after it attracted more than 3,000 participants.
It is true to say that enabling more children and young people into sport is still the greatest challenge, but from what I have seen we’re on the right road.
Coming third in the medals table is impressive. Our next challenge should be to come top of the global sports participation table. We’re only at the start of the legacy journey but we know we can deliver; now everyone needs to work harder than ever to keep the momentum going.
Rehman Chishti is Tory MP for for Gillingham and Rainham
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