London 2012 is about inspiring a generation and, for athletics, our inspiring moment came when over 16m people tuned in to watch Jess Ennis, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford win Olympic gold. Our biggest challenge is to ensure that this historic event inspires the next generation of talent – not only kids across the country watching it on the TV, but also the younger members of Team GB. Eight members of the British athletics team at the 2012 Games are considered strong medal contenders for Rio 2016. They all used the London Games as a dress rehearsal for Rio – experiencing competition at the highest level and soaking up the atmosphere, so they can deliver in four years time. Britain has had a successful home Games – it’s now up to us to captivate the next generation.
Kevin Towler is head of coaching and development for UK Athletics. For more information on British athletes and how to get involved in athletics visit www.uka.org.uk
Team GB has performed magnificently – medals heaped onto a pile so big that, for a moment, the US and China must have feared for their pre-eminence. Of course, we have Sir John Major to thank for unlocking so much of this potential, for diverting money into British sport in hitherto unimaginable quantities. Money matched with talent seems an obvious equation – the alchemist’s recipe for perpetual sporting gold. But success is not inevitable and we shouldn’t build ourselves up for disappointment at Rio. Our record performance in London has been, to some degree, surprising – and an immensely pleasant surprise. Yes, we shouldn’t rest on our laurels and expect the Olympic legacy to fulfil itself. But we also shouldn’t worry too much if we don’t win 80 medals at Rio. Elite sport is forever becoming more competitive. And so Team GB has to keep running to remain where it is, let alone sprint further ahead.
Tom Welsh is financial features writer at City A.M.