The staggering success of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, supported by the UK lottery draw, has raised questions about the future of sport in the United Kingdom. Many of us are feeling a little deflated after the excitement of the last few weeks and the questions are now being asked about where we go now.
Fortunately, theBritish National Lottery still pays 28% of its funds to good causes and many of these include sports. The lottery supports more than 1200 athletes in various stages of development and many of those are aiming at the next Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
But money from the British National Lottery is also being used to encourage sport throughout the country. Sport has benefits other than producing world-class athletes. Participating in sport can help children and adults learn life skills, besides controlling the health of the nation.
The new heroes of sport, the winners and participants in the London 2012 events, have been quick to thank the British National Lottery for its support. Gold medal winner Bradley Wiggins told an interviewer, “I would not have been Olympic champion without the investment I have had from the National Lottery.”
Equally, Matt Gumby, a triathlon hopeful for the 2016 Olympic Games, had a message for all players of the British National Lottery: “Thanks very much for your ongoing support. Without that support I would struggle to do what I am doing.”
Following the incredible success of the London 2012 Olympics, supported by the UK lottery draw, we are all feeling a little deflated. The excitement of the games caught many by surprise and the events caused excitement rarely seen before. Now it has all gone away and we are left wondering what exactly happened.
But of course it is not over yet. In less than a week the London 2012 Paralympic Games begin and athletes have already started to arrive for the events. In the same way that the British National Lotteryprovided funding for the Olympic facilities, the Paralympians will benefit from the same money.
Obviously the facilities are largely the same as those for the Olympics but more money has been provided by the UK lottery draw to ensure the Paralympics will be as much a success. As with the TeamGB Olympians, an extensive number of Paralympic athletes have benefitted from lottery funding. Indeed, there has been little or no difference in the support given to athletes no matter in which competition they compete.
Ellie Simmonds won two gold medals in swimming during the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008 whilst still at school and has raked up a drawer full of medals since. She is expected to add to that haul in London. Supported by the UK lottery draw, Ellie said, “We’re all really excited at the prospect of competing in London and it makes you want to stand behind the blocks and hear the roar of the that crowd.”
Peter Keen of UK Sport summed up the feeling of the athletes when he said, “National Lottery funding continues to make a life-changing difference at all levels of sport, giving everyone the chance to fulfill their potential. No one has contributed more to our athletes than National Lottery players.”
So if you have been playing the British National Lottery you can feel proud that you have contributed to the Paralympic Games. Now we can give the athletes our full support at the Games – I hope you will be watching the events and shouting your support as much as I will!
With the excitement of the Olympics still bubbling and the Paralympics about to start, thought is being given to how the athletes are funded and the future. The British National Lottery and Euromillions prize draw are both important to this.
Katherine Grainger won a Gold medal in the recent London 2012 Olympics rowing after achieving three Silver medals in previous Olympic Games to add to her six world championship titles. She agrees none of this could have been possible without the support of the British National Lottery.
She started training in 1997, just as the British National Lottery funding began but knows athletes who had to work a job or get into debt in order to finance their sport. Now Katherine and others can concentrate full time on their rowing and can get grants for the equipment, support and training they need to ensure they can properly represent their country.
Sir Chris Hoy started training in 1994 and had to pay for his own training and provide his own bicycle to train in the local velodrome. When the British National Lottery started funding cycle sports, the standard leaped enormously. Over the last few days Chris has shown the money he has received has not been wasted as he won his sixth Olympic gold medal in London to add to his 11 World Championship golds and innumerable other medals.
Both Chris Hoy and Katherine Grainger have been vocal in asking for funding to be maintained for sports after the Olympics and it looks like both the British National Lottery and the Government is responding.
Of his sport, Chris Hoy told the Daily Express newspaper: “Cycling is one of the key beneficiaries of Lottery funding, allowing it to bring in top-class coaches and buy the best equipment. The result? Eight golds in Beijing and another eight in London.”
Who knows what our lottery pounds will pay for in Rio de Janeiro in 2016?
All the hard work related to the run up to the 2012 London Olympics is now paying off. The players of the British National Lottery can also feel a little proud as their money has go towards so much of the Games. But the UK lottery draw has not only financed the infrastructure of the Olympics but has also been instrumental in getting many of the athletes to the events.
On 2 August 2012, a rush of medals broke a nervous time for British athletes. One of these was a gold medal for a 25-year-old Peter Wilson in the double trap shooting. Immediately after the event, a BBC journalist interviewed Peter and he thanked both the British National Lottery and Sheik Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Hasher Al Maktoum for their support.
Sheik Maktoum won a Gold medal in the Athens Olympics and started to coach Peter in 2009. Interestingly, Peter, a farmer’s son from Sherborne in Dorset, approached Sheik Maktoum at a competition and asked him to become his coach. The training was mostly done over the telephone with Peter flying out to Dubai a few times each year. To give himself an income, Peter also worked as a waiter.
Peter says, “It’s as if Prince William was teaching me to fly a helicopter.’ Although his coach is from a royal family, the formalities were dropped between the two and Peter impressed the Sheik with his dedication and willingness to follow instructions in detail.
The Sheik was in the stands watching his protégé shoot in the final and was probably the more nervous of the two. Peter? He was thinking about table tennis. Apparently he is enjoying that sport as well now…
As I write, the London 2012 Olympic Games will open in 197 days time. The preparations for this huge event are well on schedule and the UK lottery draw has provided £1.5 billion of it’s promised £1.835 billion funding.
All the sport venues for the event have been officially handed over to the event’s organisers and athletes all over the world are in preparation for what, for many, will be the biggest event in their sporting lives.
Many British athletes are also funded by the UK lottery draw.
Josie Pearson from Wales has always been sporty as she was passionate about horse riding. In 2003 however she broke her neck in a car accident that also killed her boyfriend but was determined to continue in sport. Just after her accident Josie watched the Athens Olympics on television and decided to be a competitor. It was not long before Josie became a wheelchair athlete, competing in the 100 metre, 200 metre and 400 metre sprint events.
This week, she will be going to New Zealand to compete in the World Athletics Championships expecting to win medals. But this is simply preparation for the Olympics in July when it is expected she will represent her country with even greater success.
This determined athlete, who has just turned 26 years old, is grateful for the support given to her by the UK lottery draw. “The contribution of the National Lottery’s players is paramount to the existence of our sport but it goes well beyond just funding in that it creates a legacy of opportunity for young athletes to pursue their aspirations and dreams. The funding is the foundation of the future,” Josie says.
When you buy your tickets for the British National Lottery, you may pause to think how you are helping athletes like Josie Pearson.
The British National Lottery has been helping the preparations for the 2012 London Olympic Games through extensive funding initiatives. This has not been restricted to the sports and sports facilities we can all see but also includes responsibilities to other areas that are not so obvious.
Projects supported by the British National Lottery funding include ‘In The Parks,’ an initiative in the London boroughs of Newham, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Greenwich and Hackney most at the centre of preparation for the Games. The programme is intended to encourage sport among residents of the boroughs through a series of annual Sports festivals.
The first of these events was held in September 2010 in Newnham, timed to coincide with the Tour of Britain cycle race. Appropriately the emphasis was on cycling but other sports, such as table tennis, taekwondo and basketball were also trialed. Olympic athletes were there to encourage the participants.
Three further events took place in the boroughs during 2011.
There are also two other projects, ‘Represent London,’ which involves local people in voluntary roles to help the Games run smoothly, and ‘Transformers,’ a programme encouraging local communities to come up with innovative ways to celebrate the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
All three of these local projects are collectively known as the East London Business Alliance and are financed to the tune of £2.85 million by the UK lottery draw.
Many British Olympic athletes are grateful for the support of the UK lottery draw in their preparations for the 2012 Games.
“The support of the National Lottery and its players has been very important and allowed me to compete and win against the best in the world.”
So said Rebecca Adlington, winner of two swimming gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and who looks forward to doing the same or better in London next year. Her preparations are going well as she became world champion for the 800m Freestyle event in July this year. This adds to her European and Commonwealth titles as well as the Olympic title already won.
But Rebecca is far from the only athlete to be grateful for the support given to sport in the country by the UK lottery draw. Sir Chris Hoy won three gold medals for cycling in Beijing to become the most successful Olympic cyclist ever. He has been supported by the UK lottery draw for eleven years. “If I could give a message to those who play the lottery it would be thank you. It has had such a massive impact for British Cycling and for me.”
On the 27 July 2012 the London Olympics will commence. With one year to go the progress is impressive.
With the help of £2.2 billion from the British National Lottery, several of the essential venues are already completed. Construction of the main Olympic Stadium has been finished with the laying of the last square of turf and the construction of the Basketball Arena, the Handball Arena, the Velodrome, the Aquatics Centre and the Lee Valley White Water Centre has also been finished.
Also completed is the main railway station specific to the venues and the press and broadcast centres are also finished.
The development was designed with a view to long-term sustainability for the local community and, with this in mind, three quarters of the promised residential development on the area is structurally complete. Nearby the Chobham Academy school is almost structurally complete too.
About £5 billion of contracts related to the Olympic Games have been awarded to British businesses and 22,000 schools are involved in related initiatives. British companies built the entire Olympic stadium and the same can be said for 98% of the other facilities.
Over the months before the Olympic flame is lit, heralding the start of the 2012 Games, several test events will be held at the venues to ensure they are fit for their main purpose. Some have already happened with the streets of London closing on the 30 May for a successful trial of the marathon course. The white Basketball Arena will host the London International Basketball Invitational between the 16 and 21 August this year.
It has been decided not to hold the British athletics trials in the 80,000 seat Olympic stadium for logistic reasons but the venue has been busy already: the British Universities athletics championships were held there in May, as was the London Disability Grand Prix for paralympic athletes.
After much concern about the cost of the construction, it is at last good to see that everything is well on schedule. The British National Lottery money was obviously well spent.
Stef Collins has been star of women’s basketball in New York State for some years but for the 2012 Olympic Games in London she hopes to play for Great Britain, following a training camp provided by the British National Lottery.
The reason she can play for Great Britain and take advantage of the generosity of the British National Lottery is that Stef (now 28 years old) was born in Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire. She moved to America and played basketball for Odessa-Montour high school and St. Bonaventure University.
The places on the squad are not yet finalized but it seems pretty certain she will play for the British team: a fact that is exciting both for British ambitions and for her fans in New York. 2012 will be the first time a British team has appeared at the Olympics since women’s basketball was included in 1976. The British Basketball Federation was only formed in 2006 specifically for the build up to the London Olympic Games.
Stef Collins has in fact been with the British team since that start in 2006 and they made their mark last month by making it to the last twelve of the EuroBasket Women’s Championships in Poland.
Stef’s career has always moved between the USA and Britain as she played for a time in the Rhondda Rebels team in Wales before moving to the University of Wales at Cardiff to get a master’s degree and play basketball.
Damian Jennings, an assistant coach on the Great Britain team marks Stef down as a natural leader so it all looks good for British hopes.
Once again the British National Lottery helps Olympic hopefuls get to the Games.