Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Super Athletes

Britain's New Sporting Heroes

Back in February we blogged SS-Totenkopf Standarte “UKSport”s meisterplan to breed an elite cadre of Olympic superathletes with which to conquer the world in 2012. The promise was to deliver fourth place in the medals table for the trifling sum of £773,199,000, and they were able to be that precise because they had developed "a sophisticated investment model to determine the level of additional funding required...it is logical, measurable, and scalable."

It's fair to say we weren't impressed.

Subsequently, we watched in grim fascination as the Public Accounts Committee gave the heads of UK Sport and the DCMS six of the best for telling porkies about whether the plan existed or not.

And today the PAC has issued its report on the whole sorry mess:
  • UKS spent £68m of our money supporting athletes for Athens, promising 39 medals: they actually achieved just 28, including zero in gymnastics (target 3), and zero in Taekwondo- of all things- (target 2)
  • The record in the Winter Olympics is even worse
  • UKS routinely tells porkies: included in its published results prior to Athens were "83 medals won in events not taken into account in setting the target. The effect was to turn underperformance into apparent success".

Even Lord Seb of Coe is beginning to panic:

"The last few years has been a steady downward trend. I don't think anyone can argue with that...there are some issues we need to tackle. We are not getting enough men into finals. We've got to compete more consistently as a team. We've got to produce quality athletes. We can't have an Olympic Games without a shop window that is worthy of the name. We don't have any alternative but to find quality competitors."

Well, quite, my Lord, but surely it's a bit late to reintroduce competitive sport into state schools.

PS Shortly after her public thrashing at the PAC, poor Dame Sue Street decided to chuck in the towel as Perm Sec at DCMS. You can't blame her, especially having to deal with the dismally incompetent Tess all day long.

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