UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE To be published as HC 104-i

House of COMMONS

MINUTES OF EVIDENCE

TAKEN BEFORE

CULTURE, MEDIA & SPORT COMMITTEE

 

 

LONDON 2012 OLYMPIC and paralymipic GAMES

 

 

Tuesday 20 November 2007

MR PETER KING, MR CHRIS BOARDMAN MBE, MR ED WARNER, MR DAVID SPARKES and MR IAN MASON OBE

MS SUE CAMPBELL CBE and MR PETER KEEN

Evidence heard in Public Questions 1 - 80

 

 

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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee

on Tuesday 20 November 2007

Members present

Mr John Whittingdale, in the Chair

Philip Davies

Mr Nigel Evans

Paul Farrelly

Mr Mike Hall

Alan Keen

Adam Price

Mr Adrian Sanders

Helen Southworth

________________

Memoranda submitted by British Cycling, UK Athletics and British Swimming & Amateur Swimming Association

 

Examination of Witnesses

 

Witnesses: Mr Peter King, Chief Executive Officer, Mr Chris Boardman MBE, Director of Coaching and Olympic Programmes, British Cycling; Mr Ed Warner, Chairman, UK Athletics; Mr David Sparkes, Chief Executive and Mr Ian Mason OBE, Director of World Class Operations, British Swimming, gave evidence.

Chairman: Good morning, everybody. This is the first of several hearings which the Committee is holding to check-up on the progress for the preparations for the London 2012 Games. I would like to welcome, first of all, Peter King and Chris Boardman of British Cycling, Ed Warner of UK Athletics, and David Sparkes and Ian Mason from British Swimming.

Q1 Mr Hall: One of the yardsticks we set for a successful Olympics is the number of medals that we actually win. On your shoulders, gentlemen, rests a lot of the national pride - cycling, athletics and swimming. Do you think it is appropriate we should use this as a yardstick for a successful Olympics - the number of medals we actually win?

Mr Boardman: I think it is appropriate that that is ultimately how we will be judged. If you set out a stall to achieve something then you are more likely to achieve that. I think it is probably the only way that we can ultimately measure our success.

Q2 Mr Hall: The Sydney Olympics were judged a success and then we got a couple more medals in Athens. If we are going to be coming fourth in 2012 and we want to be eighth next year in Beijing are these targets actually achievable?

Mr Boardman: I think they are very challenging. I do think they are achievable but it is going to be quite close, frankly. There is perhaps possibly an over-reliance on three sports at the moment - cycling, sailing and rowing in particular. There is a lot of expectation around those sports. That is a particular challenge for our sport.

Q3 Mr Hall: We are looking for a much better performance next year in swimming, are we not? Is that on the cards?

Mr Sparkes: I think the reality is that we are very much on-track for a substantial performance in 2012, and that remains our long-term goal; but the reality is that we are facing in Beijing a massive challenge. Just to give you some idea - we will be facing about 160 nations in the swimming pool. We have seen recently at the World Championships a massive re-emergence of the Americans who got themselves back organised in the swimming pool. Any of you who watched Olympics many years ago will have seen the Americans dominate in the swimming pool. The Chinese are a massive swimming nation. The Japanese will not want to be seen to be stepping back from that. The Koreans are investing enormous sums of money into the swimming pool. Swimming is truly a world sport, and I would guess that, very similar to athletics, we face a massive challenge, and every medal we win will be hard-fought for, but we are hopeful. We have got more youngsters in the medal zone than we have had for many a year, but getting onto the podium is extremely difficult to predict.

Q4 Mr Hall: This year's World Championships has 41 medals. That gives us quite a good springboard, does it not, to move forward in Beijing next year, in Olympic disciplines?

Mr Warner: In all disciplines absolutely. Going back to your first question there are two things I would say to you: first of all, you have to realise that the medals table is very specifically gold-medal ranked. Looking at it absurdly, you could get 100 silver medals and no gold medals and appear halfway down the medal table and you could have done incredibly well. It is not a very elegant measure. Fourth in the medal table is fine to aspire to but that is a very narrow way to judge the success of Olympic sports. Secondly, will the Olympics be a great Olympics? Every summer, as long as it does not rain, we tend to have a fantastic fortnight at Wimbledon with hardly any British success and people come away saying, "That was a great Wimbledon". London 2012 will consist of two things; one is, is it a great show, yes or no? I think it will be. It will be an even better show if we get British medals as well. I think it is more than just medal delivery in 2012. We need medal delivery in a great show.

Q5 Mr Hall: I agree with that. Finally, and this relates to how we are doing in the Paralympics, we are extremely successful in the Paralympic Games yet we are still aiming to be second. Should we not be a bit more ambitious and aim to overtake China?

Mr Mason: The British Swimming Paralympic Team were top of the World Championships in December in South Africa, but the key message coming away from that event was the emergence of new countries; because people are now beginning to wake up to Paralympic sport in terms of investment. The United States, which was a sleeping giant in swimming, made tremendous strides forward in terms of the medal count, and in fact came second to us by only one gold medal; that is how close it was. Going forward to Beijing, we anticipate disability swimming to be in the top three because we see China as emerging as a country which has previously not had a record in this area. With the vastness of the country and the home games, we actually think China will be the team to beat come Beijing.

Q6 Mr Hall: Is that across the piece - athletics as well?

Mr Warner: In terms of China, absolutely. Tanni Grey-Thompson, whom we all know of, is joining the Board of UK Athletics at my invitation as a non-executive director, and I was talking to her about this recently. She had been on a trip to Beijing and was amazed at, frankly, the number of disabled athletes that are being brought through the system there. I think there are specific challenges in the UK, and one of the things we are very keen to do is to work, for example, much more closely with the Armed Forces in converting injured soldiers coming back from Iraq and from Afghanistan into athletes. I think there are some challenges there with regard to the Armed Forces not necessarily wanting to publicise the number of injured soldiers coming back, but we have to look for our paralympians where we can find them. There is a challenge there of identification and then of convergence into athletes and training. I do believe that UK Sport and Lottery funding gives us sufficient resources to do that work, but a lot of it is about talent identification.

Q7 Mr Sanders: How do you ensure that the money (and there is never, ever enough for sport) is directed into the right areas, and is not directed into chasing medals?

Mr Boardman: I think that is really about definition of the goal from the word go. It is actually defining what you want as a return and then measuring that particular sporting body against it. That is pretty much how we have taken it.

Q8 Mr Sanders: Who should define that, Government, a funding body or the sport itself?

Mr Boardman: Perhaps that is not for me to answer. I would suggest it is a consultation between both parties. If I was handing over money I would specify quite clearly what I wanted in return.

Mr Sparkes: My position on this is quite straightforward coming from swimming. I believe that swimming can contribute significantly to the medal tally. We have a significant number of shots at the podium in a swimming pool in the Olympics and in the Paralympics; and I think we have demonstrated we have the capacity to get onto the podium, as tough as it is to get there.

Q9 Mr Sanders: Which would you prefer? Would you prefer one medal winner, or a thousand swimmers?

Mr Sparkes: The answer is: I want both.

Q10 Mr Sanders: You cannot have both.

Mr Sparkes: At the end of the day, to answer the question, we also have a responsibility as a sport to actually deliver more people having more fun in the swimming pool more often. I think we are working hard on that agenda. Some of the work we are doing in terms of the everyday swimming project which we are doing with Sport England (and reports on where we have got to on that have been circulated to all MPs) show considerable success in changing the culture in the pool, getting more people swimming and getting more people sticking with swimming. I think that is really important. To my mind it is not just about medals and/or; it is about doing both. I see no difficulty in achieving both. They are not necessarily in some people's eyes good bedfellows. Some people are very focussed on medals and our coaches are probably in that area; but we have got an awful lot of people who are focussed on getting more people swimming more often.

Mr Warner: I agree entirely. We have to aspire to have both. There are two pots of public funding that come into all of our sports: one through the National Sports Council, Sport England and so on; and the other is Lottery funding for our elite athletes. We have clearly heard a lot from Sport England about the risk of funding being cut for our participation programmes. We have to fight very hard to retain that or find other sources of income to sustain it. For us it is jargon but there is an athlete pathway which starts in the playground and hopefully ends up on the podium. If you starve that pathway of talent coming in at the playground level and developing then you are not going to get your podium athletes of the future. We talk about a legacy from London 2012, that has to be many more people participating in sport and for athletics. I want lots of people to go jogging for health and fitness purposes, sure, but I actually want people participating in track and field in athletics as a sport and not just as a recreational health discipline. We have to do all we can to take 2012 and make that an inspiration to people to want to go to a club to throw things, to run, and to jump ; and not just to go for a jog to keep fit.

Mr King: Cycling is a clear example of the fact that you can have both. We have had success in Sydney and success in Athens, and during that period of time the number of people taking part in competitive cycling has gone up by 60%.

Mr Boardman: We have actually had a programme of testing in schools as well to bring people into the sport and then into talent clubs. The last figures I can recall were 15,000 school children were tested in a single year. With those rises in cycling participation we only actually have two feasible tracks, one in Newport and one in Manchester, to achieve that. We have a participation part on the disability side which we think is very important as well. It is an integral part of what we do. They actually train with the able-bodied; they use the same equipment by and large. We are top in the medal table there as well, so I think it is possible to service all areas.

Q11 Chairman: Looking at swimming, I attended a launch you had here last week where you brought along Duncan Goodhew, who plainly is a role-model but he is now a slightly ancient role-model. It is a long time since we had a household name as a British swimming champion. Why are we not doing better at swimming?

Mr Sparkes: I want to answer that historically - why are we not doing better - to be honest with you there are a number of factors in that. Number one, I think we certainly did lose our way a little bit. We did not have adequate funding. We did not have sufficient 50-metre pools, and you have probably heard me say that a few times. It is very difficult to train Olympic champions, and we did not get enough access to the 50-metre pools that we have got at affordable prices. The whole thing was a little bit of a mish-mash. What we have now done is built what I believe is a very sustainable system, whereby we are now developing around the new 50-metre pools the opportunity for affordable access where we can get good coaches into that environment so that youngsters can come through. The last gold medallist we had was Adrian Moorhouse who came from Leeds if you recall, a Bradford boy. At the end of the day what we need are more Adrian Moorhouses. What we have developed without doubt is a whole raft of young talent that is very close to the podium. We now believe that we have got adequate funding and adequate systems in places and, I have to say, some exceptional world-class coaches, and they have now got to convert those finalists into medallists, which is what we all want. That takes time and you cannot do it in a day, not when there are another 160 nations all wanting to do it at the same time. The trick is that you need the talent, you need the coaches and you need the pools. I believe we are on the right road and it just will take time.

Q12 Chairman: Swimming was the one discipline where at Athens it did not appear to be a target for medals at all and you actually came back with two. What is the target for Beijing?

Mr Sparkes: Four.

Q13 Chairman: Are you confident?

Mr Mason: As confident as we can be within the context that David has set of 160 nations. Just exemplifying what David has said, in March we were down at the Australian Institute of Sport specifically to see the new swimming training centre and this epitomises what we are up against. This was a dedicated, high-tech training facility on a no-compromise basis. No public access; no student access; a three-metre, ten-lane pool with 26 analysis cameras purely dedicated to success on the international stage. This is a country that is relatively small in comparison to the UK, and they now reckon that to keep ahead of all other countries bar America they must invest in quality daily training facilities in sports science and sports medicine and that is the bit we have still to get to. Big improvement because of the vast investment in the last few years but in swimming terms (and I cannot speak for other sports) we are a mile off having excellent daily training facilities across the board which is required for international success.

Q14 Alan Keen: Could I ask about cycling. I was at Herne Hill in 1948 watching Ed Salas beating the Italians so it goes back a long way with me. I was at Windsor Great Park watching the road race in 1948 and that was an amazing sight. In those days cycling was a massive sport as there were not many cars about. There are not many tracks now, are there?

Mr Boardman: Two. We have numerous outdoor facilities, but indoor Olympic comparable facilities we have Newport and Manchester.

Q15 Alan Keen: We have seen a tremendous upsurge, certainly in central London, with lots of people cycling who did not use to cycle before. There cannot be any way that is fed into the competitive sport, presumably? Where do the young cyclists come from? I am speaking as somebody who lives in London and sees no sign of competitive cycling obviously. How do you get youth fed into competitive cycling?

Mr King: As you said there about all the people you see cycling in London that can actually be fed into the competitive cycling arena. We have a programme called Everyday Cycling and it is all about taking people who are already on their bikes for one reason or another and actually bringing them into the structured programmes which lead right the way through as a continuous pathway to the medal level. That is a programme that has been funded by Sport England. We are not yet confident that it will be funded going forward but actually it is the base of our pyramid in terms of your ordinary everyday cyclist. In terms of the children coming through, we have a lot of programmes where we physically go into the schools; we take the equipment with us; and we introduce the schools, through our coaches, to the joys of cycling; teach them the skills and transfer them through a programme called Go Ride into elementary cyclists and elementary competitive cyclists. Cycling is a very tough sport and it is a very long road to take people through from just riding a bike to actually becoming competitive cyclists.

Mr Boardman: That pathway is in place. We have talent team coaches who are our talent scouts. They liaise with those affiliated clubs, the clubs that have a coach there and they have the facilities to be able to get that designation as a Go Ride club, so we have that link from playing field all the way through.

Q16 Alan Keen: Is it a good link between the cycling clubs and the schools? Is it structured?

Mr King: It is a good link in some areas. We have an accreditation programme for the clubs and the better clubs link well with the schools and local communities. We are trying to expand that as fast as we can.

Q17 Alan Keen: How important is the Olympics for cycling? You have, in a way, punched above your weight in cycling as far as medals go. We have been very proud of you and others. How important is the Olympics? Does it inspire a lot of people to get into competitive cycling?

Mr Boardman: I think it is our advertisement. It is our shop window and really that shows people what we can aspire to. Certainly with that level of success - and we are quite expecting that to increase at the next Games - success does breed success. It is an old adage but it is actually true because it shows the juniors coming up (and because of the limited facilities we train in Manchester and today the youngsters are often integrated into senior teams) all the way through there is genuine belief that if I work at this I will get where I need to go, and it seems to be working.

Q18 Alan Keen: What do you really need? As far as medals are concerned you are one of the top sports, certainly in the Olympics and World Championships. What do you need to compete with swimming, rugby and football really? There is no reason why the whole population cannot have a chance to be fed through into competitive cycling. What else do you need?

Mr Boardman: Perhaps I can answer from one end and you can answer from the other. From the performance perspective coaching-wise and everything else, we have got what we need now. What we are really short of probably, certainly not what you want to hear, are facilities. We have got two facilities, and they are fantastic and working at capacity but we are competing for space on the Manchester track with the Olympic team training and the local schools. You want to serve both and we cannot do it. We have facilities but they are working at capacity which is great but that is one thing that we need.

Mr King: It is facilities all the way down, actually. It is not just facilities for the elite to train on, but facilities for people you see riding down the streets and the kids coming out of the schools, to actually go and cycle somewhere safely. We have very, very few closed road circuits, off-road circuits, even outdoor tracks. We use all that we have to the full. Unfortunately we are the one sport that has suffered because of the London 2012 Games because we have lost the most heavily-used facility we had which is now being redeveloped. That is fine because, going back to your earlier question, for us the Olympic Games is absolutely fundamental. London 2012 is the biggest opportunity we will have in our lifetime to take sport out to the people and change the whole culture which surrounds it. We are very up for doing that and we know there are more people riding bikes today than there are swimming or running, so we have a bigger pool of available talent than probably any of the other sports; it is just how we tap that and bring them into our sphere of influence.

Q19 Mr Evans: How would you best describe our performance in Athens as far as athletics was concerned?

Mr Warner: I think one athlete and one amazing performance by the men's 4 x 100 relay acted as something of a fig leaf for overall a disappointing Games, although clearly I only joined UK Athletics this year so it is just looking back. Kelly Holmes in that relay squad did fantastically, but it did not bode well at that point for the future of British elite athletics; so we are working off that base really. I think that tells you a number of things about all the sports that we are helping to manage. One of those things is that the dividing line between what is perceived to be a success and a failure is incredibly fine. We go back to the question earlier about medals tables and so on - it is a very fine dividing line all the way down. The inheritance of Niels de Vos my Chief Executive and me when we came in this year is of an improving sport from a base which I think we would all agree is unacceptably low.

Q20 Mr Evans: I was wondering whether the word "dismal" would best describe it, to be honest?

Mr Warner: If you lined up those four relay runners and Kelly Holmes in front of you I would challenge you to say "dismal" to their face, because they were part of that team and they won three gold medals between them.

Q21 Mr Evans: We are talking about the overall performance here. There are exceptions to that, but overall you have to say "disappointing" may be too soft a word on that. What are you going to do now - and listening to what David and Ian said earlier on - about making a difference in Beijing but then making that a springboard for 2012?

Mr Warner: That work is already going on. There is a new performance director arrived since Athens. There is a new model for coaching our athletes in what we call high performance athletic centres, of which we have four, in Birmingham, two in London and Loughborough; and there is an holistic programme built around each of the athletes to give them the best of everything, from sports science, to psychology, coaching, training and so on. It is a much more focussed programme. Four or five years ago we had a couple of hundred athletes on high level funding, now we have just over 40; so we are focussing our efforts on those where we really think that yes, they can achieve medals in the future. It is a young team, which I am actually quite pleased about, given we are looking through to 2012. Paula Radcliffe, our most high profile of athletes, is much further through her career; but if you look underneath that at the bulk of the team they are very young; they are in their late teens and early 20s, which is great. There is a no stone left unturned philosophy. If you look at elite sport - whether it is the Olympic sports or the non-Olympic sports - that is what is required today in a very competitive environment. Just like with swimming, the IAAF has a couple of hundred members and medals can come from anywhere. In Osaka in the World Championships this summer the men's high jump was won by someone from the Bahamas who had not been a high-jumper until a year ago; he came out of basketball. He did fantastically and there was one man who won a gold medal for the Bahamas. We are up against 200 Bahamas all the way through to America, China and Russia at the top end. Every medal is hard won; you cannot leave stones unturned and we are focussing athletes into high performance centres, much like the velodrome in Manchester, and we are focussing attention on every single aspect of their development, rather than spraying money across a wide range of athletes hoping that some of it sticks.

Q22 Mr Evans: David, you mentioned Australia. I have been to look at their institute in Canberra too, and I was hugely impressed with what they have got there. What the Australians have done in swimming is just amazing considering their population as well. I know they are sport crazy but it has actually delivered for them. Do you think that that is the answer, to have some sort of specialised centre where we are investing lots of money in targets?

Mr Warner: We do do that. If you are talking about dismal, the dismal performance of Government re the bid for the 2005 Athletics Championships which ended up with a fantastic indoor facility at Picketts Lock; it is not a bad consolation prize; it was not the top prize. I can take you there and show you athletes in action in a concentrated environment with everything on the spot, including sports science, medicine and physiotherapy from the England Institute of Sport and you would say, "I'll back that". We have still got to put the right athletes and the right coaches in there in the right programmes; but to my mind, I am more relaxed about facilities in athletics than I am about our talent pool. We have a very, very thin layer of young athletic talent that does not go very deep. We went to Osaka with one male 1500 metre runner in the team, one male 800 metre runner in the team; but you go back ten, 20 or 30 years to the great days of British long-distance running and that just tells you we are working with a very small squad of talent. I am comfortable that UK Sport are funding us to have the right amount of resource and the right locations to do the work that we have to do; but what I am concerned about is we have not got a lot of talent to do it. We have to find a pearl inside every oyster. We do not have many opportunities to get lucky across a broad range of athletes.

Q23 Mr Evans: I used the word "dismal" quite rightly to try and find out whose fault it was and how we could make a change and how we could make a difference?

Mr Warner: If you are going back to whose fault it was, I think there is a whole range of things including poor management of UK athletics for a number of years - which may sound like I am palming blame off onto my predecessors but it is what I believe from what I have inherited: a degree of under-funding; and some substantial societal problems, including the fantastic allure of football, for example. If you are a very fast 15-year old lad over 100 metres and you can do that with a ball at your feet you know which sport you are going down. It is very difficult for us to compete against that. Money reaches a very long way down the tiers of some of the other major sports, football particularly; and money reaches down to dozens of athletes not hundreds of thousands of footballers. That is very difficult, so it is no surprise to me, for example, when I look at the team we took to Osaka that our women did much better than our men. Just as I said we only had one male 800 metre runner, we took three women 800 metre runners this summer. It is a reflection of the relative pulls on time, the attraction of the sports to young kids, and we are working against that at all times. It is a society in which your leisure time is used in very, very different ways from 20 or 30 years ago.

Q24 Mr Evans: I want to come to you, David. This bit about the picture of what makes an elite athlete and the sacrifices they have to make to get where they are, has the picture changed completely, particularly in swimming? Some people having to get up at five in the morning, being driven many miles to a swimming pool to swim at odd times in order to get the practice in, has it changed now?

Mr Sparkes: If anything, it has got tougher. That is the reality. May I just go back to your earlier question which you posed to UK Athletics, because I think it is really important you understand that if we are to have an extrusion mass of talent in this country what we have to do is make sure that the club base is sound. That is really important, because the club base is where the young talented Adrian Moorhouses and Duncan Goodhews come from; that is where they first appear. What we have to do then is make sure that the talent is picked up in that club base and is nurtured through good coaching. Investment in coaching is critical to making this country a great sporting nation. One thing that the Australians have done really well is make sure that young elite athletes get appropriate access, affordable access and great coaching. Once they get on the path of becoming an elite athlete for sure I can see a real benefit in getting that athlete into what I call a high performance training environment, where the training environment is about surrounding the athlete with all the tools they need to become world-class. There is no doubt they have to have fantastic commitment; they have to make some massive sacrifices and decisions and have to commit to the task. There can be no short-cut now to the podium. The days of the guy putting his pumps on and winning the gold medal have just gone. You have to now commit. In my view, in swimming it takes round about eight years to prepare an athlete for the Olympic podium, and there is no guarantee because somebody could pop up, like Ian Thorpe, and just swim you out of the pool. At the end of the day that is the sort of commitment youngsters are making up and down this country. Yes, it does involve early morning training; yes, it does involve early evening training; but it is about working in an environment where we can get youngsters into the right training environment. If I can give you one message: we need to invest in coaching, not just at the elite end but also at every end; whether that youngster pops up in some small town in Wales, where there is on a 25-metre pool, they need to be faced with a coach who knows how to handle that talent. What we can do is we can provide the training, and we can provide the background to that but we need that investment; because many of those coaches today are still volunteers; we have got an awful lot of professional coaches in swimming, and that is good news for us, but there are still an awful lot of volunteers our there. One message I would give to you is: you can build all the facilities - and I want more pools, I want more 50-metre pools, that goes without saying, and that will come in time - but we need great coaches in those pools to make those pools work. I guess that is true of every facility you build. The facility on its own will not work without great coaches.

Q25 Mr Evans: Have we got sufficient great coaches?

Mr Sparkes: The quick answer to that is no, but that is not because we have not tried. What we are trying to do now, through working through the UK coaching certificate programme, working through the new UK coaching framework, we are actually trying to make sure that we are building a generation of great coaches now. Part of that is bringing foreign coaches in so that we can fast-track some of the great coaches. We have got some world-class coaches; we have not got enough of them. That has been under-investment over years, and a lack of commitment; but, if we are focussed and we really mean it, it is people who will make the difference.

Q26 Mr Evans: You talked about eight years in prep, I do not know if that is the same for athletics as well, but it is a long lead-time, is it not? How are we going bring on youngsters in schools now, because it is sacrifices they are making to become elite athletes?

Mr Warner: You have to go and capture their imagination on the ground in the schools. We have got a programme called Elevating Athletics which is a teacher resource. We have a lot of support from our major sponsor Norwich Union behind that, and behind things like summer camps and so. You have to take your inspiration to them. Kelly Holmes who is an ambassador for our sport goes up and down the country meeting phenomenal numbers of school children every year. That has not happened because they are looking at role models in other areas of their life. Yes, they need to be inspired by what they see. We are very conscious in UK Athletics that it is a virtuous circle that could easily become a vicious one of you do not have your icons of today as opposed to the past, which is what you were getting at with swimming. We need to get that flywheel working on our behalf. You have to go to them; you cannot expect them in today's society to come to you just because they might have seen something on the television.

Q27 Mr Evans: Paula Radcliffe had a stunning victory in New York recently. I am sure she would have inspired a lot of youngsters to start running, if they are not already running. It is amazing. Looking at Beijing coming up, obviously you have all been out to Beijing and you know the problems that are there, is there anything we should be told about now as far as either acclimatisation or any logistical difficulties about the Games being held in Beijing?

Mr Warner: I am not going to make any excuses in advance for you, absolutely none. It is the same for every athlete from every country. I think if you spoke to any of our athletes they would sit there and shrug their shoulders and say, "It's the job we're going to go and do". It is for other to sit back and say, "The climate will be this, that and the other". They will go out there and compete - the same for everybody.

Mr Sparkes: I will say on the plus side, the swimming pool will be fantastic. It is probably the most stunning swimming pool I have ever seen in the world. It is enormous. It has got 4,0000 square feet of leisure water which, by any stretch of the imagination, is awesome. It has got two 50-metre pools, both 25 metres wide, and they have not spared any cash on the pool; they have just got on and built it and it will be awesome. There are challenges with the environment but everybody who goes to the pool will face the same challenges. My biggest concern is the 160 nations; I could do with 159 of them staying away. That is my biggest challenge!

Q28 Mr Sanders: I am just wondering how you are going to achieve that?

Mr Warner: That is why we are here talking to you!

Mr Sparkes: We are working with the French!

Q29 Mr Sanders: Each of you receives World Class Pathway from UK Sport, can you give us a breakdown of how you spend that funding?

Mr Mason: I will attempt to address that complex question. Before I answer in detail just to emphasise that British Swimming is a governing body that looks after five disciplines - swimming, diving, syncro, water polo and disability swimming - so we are quite unique in terms of five strings to our bow; therefore, when you add up the funding package it is quite substantial. If I give you a flavour of the funding: I have to say, this is a good news story because funding in the last couple of years in particular really does give us a chance to compete with the best in the world. There are no excuses in due course - we need to be held accountable for the public money that is invested. If I take British Swimming globally with all of the disciplines, in 2005-06, which was the first year of the Olympic cycle, we received 6.5 million of public money globally, and I do not mean we got all of the money, some was top-sliced for athletes, some was top-sliced for sports science monies etc; but in terms of investment into the sport 6.5 million. Due to the success of the London bid and the uplift in funding in 2006-07, which has just finished, it went up to 9.7 million, so a substantial uplift. This current year it was 10.7 million; and in the last competitive year, which is Beijing, 11.26 million; making a global investment of 38 million in total, not money that we necessarily have in our bank but in terms of investment in the sport. That has enabled a number of strategies to be started - not fully developed but started: first of all, the professionalisation of our sport in terms of coaches and technical staff. If I take up a fairly kind of basic example: water polo, which has not competed in the Olympic Games since 1957, had no professional staff, operated on a shoestring, run by volunteers, went onto funding in September 2006, just over a year, now has seven professional staff and a developing infrastructure. A long way off achieving success on the world stage, but you can see from that element of funding what has happened in terms of at least giving it a chance to be successful. The other big strand of investment has been in athlete support through the APA awards operated by UK Sport. It does not make swimmers or athletes professional, but it gives them assistance in terms of daily expenses in terms of living, competing, training and so on. That has been very helpful. I think the other area I would highlight is the transformation in terms of the sports science and sports medicine infrastructure. There are still issues to be grasped but it is a quantum leap in terms of where we were two, three or four years ago. We are pleased with the funding. However, the challenge is the funding has only seriously kicked in in the last two years and the last year in particular. What we need to do is invest through to London because other nations will continue to do so. The pace of investment in the serious sporting nations will not slow down. We are picking up so I have to say, all in all, I think it is a good news story in terms of financial support.

Q30 Mr Sanders: A wonderful comprehensive answer. Is it possible to be a little shorter with cycling and athletics?

Mr King: I can give you a very short answer: I cannot actually give you the information you ask me for. It does not bother me that I cannot give you the answer because actually we look at our programme in a very holistic way. We agree with UK Sport, what the funding package is going to be over a four-year period and we need to be able to retain the flexibility to

invest -----

Q31 Mr Sanders: You had 6 million from the World Class Pathway fund and you do not know how it broke down?

Mr King: Yes, we do know how it breaks down. What I am saying to you is I do not have that information to give to you now because we like to retain the flexibility to move that investment to wherever in the pathway we think it is most appropriate to deliver the success that we aspire to.

Q32 Mr Sanders: Is it possible to give us a written answer?

Mr King: I can give you a written answer to that, certainly.

Chairman: I think that might be the answer, if all three of you could perhaps give us a little more information on how your individual allocations have been spent.

Q33 Mr Sanders: How does it compare to funding received by competitors in other countries?

Mr Sparkes: I can probably answer that better because I am probably aware of what is going on in my sport in most countries, and the answer is that it is probably less than is being invested in some of the leading nations, particularly Australia, obviously; Japan have recently stepped up their investment significantly; Germany, France, Spain and Italy have all stepped up their investment as well. I would say that we are probably comparable with some of those, and some of those we fall short of. I will say this because Ian has already said it, I believe as we are at the moment the level of investment is about right. I am not here asking for more. I would like to see more investment in other areas. I would like to see more swimming pools. I would like to see more coaches at all levels. I think at the elite end the level of investment is appropriate to the job we have to do for 2012. My only warning would be, I think we have to keep this on the agenda, because I think there will be more money coming in. There are nations now investing significantly into sport and we have to keep our eye on the ball, and we have to be smarter.

Mr Warner: I think it is very difficult to make a comparison. For example, America, clearly the leading athletics and track and field nation in the world, has really built its entire sport around the college system, so it is not government money but they have a strength which comes from a completely different structure. Each country is its own specific case. I would say we feel relatively well funded compared to most of our competitors because of 2012. If you gave me a lot more money I am not saying I would not know what to do with it, I am sure I could find some things, but if you gave it to me specifically within the elite programme it would be hard to work out how to spend it to make a big difference in the next five years. If you gave us money unencumbered that would go into facilities, it would go into the grass roots and it would go into the coaching development programmes which really could make a difference long-term. When we look at our income the UK Sport income, Lottery funding for the World Class programme is ring-fenced. There are very clear constraints on what we can do with that. No doubt you can ask Sue Campbell about that afterwards. A lot of what we do in running the organisation is trying to build the amount of unencumbered income we can bring in that we can really do what we want to do with for the long-term future of the sport.

Mr Boardman: It may be an overly simplistic response but we have not given any considered thought to what other countries get. We have what we have got to work with and that is what we have worked with. Likewise we are limited by imagination and it is a fantastic problem to have. With pretty much everything we have generally needed and asked for and justified in advance we are perfectly comfortable with where we are.

Q34 Adam Price: Could I ask you about Sir Clive Woodward, obviously a formidable force in the world of rugby as we know in Wales to our considerable cost! He was appointed just over a year ago as the British Olympic Association's Elite Performance Director with much fanfare, and there have been some interesting ideas about the advantages of teaching golfers to juggle and such like. I would like to ask you what involvement or impact he has had so far on the training programmes within your individual sports?

Mr Boardman: I think we were the first to invite him along. We just thought we would pick the phone up and invite him along. He presented at our staff conference just over a year ago, and spent two or three days on the ground with us; but at this time we do not see anything that he has to offer cycling that we are not already getting. To be honest, UK Sport would be in serious difficulty if he could offer things that they did not already do. We are quite comfortable. We looked and we listened; we did not look at anything he offered that we were not already in receipt of.

Q35 Adam Price: He said that coaches come in two types: sponges who are receptive to new ideas, and rocks that are not. So you are a rock in British Cycling?

Mr Boardman: I think that is a bit unfair because we actually invited him along and he came and spent time on the ground with us. As I said, we were the first sport to ask him along to come and spend some time with us, have a look around; and to be fair to him, he looked at what we had going and said basically, "There's not a great deal we can do here". Specifically for cycling we are comfortable. We are glad we had that consultation, but we are comfortable with where we are at. I think if you asked Clive he would feel the same way.

Mr Warner: The critical thing he said there was "new ideas". There are those of us who say there are not many new ideas with the programme. It has not had any impact on athletics as yet; it might do in the future possibly, provided we are able to dictate what elements of his programme we can use to improve our athletic chances. As you know, and no doubt you will talk to BOA and UK Sport shortly, there has been quite a political hot potato between those two organisations. My concern for athletics, and I am sure I share it across Olympic sports, is that there has been a risk we have caught a backlash of two organisations that have been locking horns around the existence of potentially rival programmes. They have reached a situation now where there is a compromise or a truce, call it whatever you like, which is based around the performance director of each individual sport being able to call upon Sir Clive's programme. Provided that remains the case, provided there is no question of BOA approaching athletes directly and offering their services around the back of performance directors, that will be fine. There is no monopoly on good ideas; I am sure there are some good ideas in the programme, just as I think there are some fantastic ideas in our programme and all the other Olympic sports programmes. As long as everybody works to mutual benefit that is fine, but it can only be controlled in one place. To my mind it is not about UK Sport controlling it; they control our funding; it is not about the BOA controlling any individual athletes or a programme; it is about the individual sports having their own programme, taking whatever input they feel they need, taking in the funding which is granted to them. If they fail then no doubt management will be changed; but otherwise you have got to leave the individual sports to get on and manage themselves because a confusion of ideas, a confusion of politics, will only hold the sports back.

Q36 Adam Price: When you say there is no monopoly on new ideas, is there a mechanism for actually sharing best practice and transferring that from discipline to discipline?

Mr Warner: UK Sport acts as that clearing house in many regards, and a lot of our performance directors do interact with each other often through the umbrella of UK Sport's own congresses but on a bilateral basis also. I think one of the things (coming new to this sports management, if you like) that I have been impressed by is that one way in which UK Sport fulfils its purpose is to bring ideas together. Again I go back to what I said, however, it is not just about the Clive Woodward programme, or a UK Sport programme, ultimately it has to be down to the performance director in each individual sport to do what he or she thinks is best and stand or fall by that. What you do not want to get to is a situation in which a performance director fails and after the event they say, "That BOA initiative got in my way, or UK Sport got in my way". You need a no excuses environment, so you have to give people clear and personal accountability and hold them to account for their success. That is the way we will run UK athletics, and we will take what input we can where we can find it but we are determined not to be dictated to, because otherwise you only give people excuses for failure and that cannot be allowed.

Q37 Adam Price: Do you share these concerns in swimming?

Mr Sparkes: Our position is basically obviously Sir Clive brings a wealth of experience and talent from the high performance arena. What we are interested in is winning and getting gold medals. We are interested to listen to Clive's ideas because clearly he may have something that is worth listening to. What we have done is undertaken a series of meetings. Clive is now meeting with our performance directors to work out how his ideas might be transferred into reality. We have got a particularly precocious talent in diving down in Plymouth. We have just brought a Chinese diving coach in to work with that diver alongside their existing coach and we are very hopeful. He is a 14 year-old lad performing incredibly difficult dives, far more than I would do, and he is potentially someone who could be a world-beater in London. Clearly to win a diving medal in London would be something spectacular. We are excited by that and we are interested to see how Sir Clive's ideas might work in that environment. We have to also temper that and ask ourselves how that impacts on other divers training in Southampton, Sheffield and so on; so it is working that out. Certainly our performance director who is leading the swimming programme is interested to see how Clive's ideas might work in the scenario of a relay team as opposed to working with individuals. That is a different twist on the story. I think at this stage we are a bit like athletics - we are prepared to listen to anyone who has got some ideas but, at the end of the day, the buck stops with us; you would hold us accountable for what we deliver; and, at the end of the day, our performance director has to be accountable for the medals they put on the table. We do not take any prisoners on that; we accept that; that is where we are.

Q38 Mr Evans: You were glowing in your admiration for the Chinese swimming centre.

We are going to at least have something that you will be proud of too. Looking at the venues, for those who are going to survive the Olympics are you happy that there is sufficient legacy either at the elite end or indeed for those communities where facilities are going to remain?

Mr Sparkes: For swimming you are quite right. We are going to have what for us will be our Wembley. It will be a truly fantastic facility. There is no question that it could revolutionise not only swimming in the East End of London, but across London, and its impact will be felt around the nation. We believe that this is a unique opportunity to actually demonstrate that community swimming and elite training could work hand in hand. We also feel that it can be a beacon of good practice and can demonstrate how we can train coaches of tomorrow by having effectively our university of coaching based in the East End of London. We will be training people on distance learning to become world-class coaches from that centre. We want to see the elite there. We want to see the five London Olympic boroughs, the community, using that facility. We want to see it driving participation. We want to see it engaging with the young children through school. We see it as a totally holistic pool in the true sense of the world. We have had massive discussions with the ODA, with LOCOG and with potential operators of the pool. The important thing for us, once the operator of the pool is identified, is to work with them and to come up with a model that is sustainable; because at the end of the day there is a cost to running a swimming pool. We are quite enthusiastic about that. We believe some of the lessons that the Chairman referred to that we have learnt from everyday swimming can be brought into that environment. Some of the lessons we have learnt to date on developing elite athletes can be brought into that environment. We are very anxious to see that built-up on the Olympic site. I believe it will be a massive legacy potentially. If I could give the Committee a warning: if we achieve this it will be the first Olympic pool that I am aware of where it has been done, so it is a massive challenge. That is why we have started talking now about legacy issues; and that is why we have been absolutely in everybody's face on the whole question of legacy; because if you do not start talking legacy before you start digging the ground you are going to get into trouble in 2013. The problem with Sydney was they did not start thinking about legacy until the Games had gone out of town. We are engaged; there are some issues as inevitably you would expect in a multi-million pound project. We are talking through those issues, but we are working with a community in the boroughs; we are working with Sport England; we are working with the ODA; we are working with LOCOG; and legacy is very much in our minds. Equally, we have to deliver a fabulous Olympic Games. There is a bit of a balancing act there to be had. Be assured we are fully engaged in that process and I am very confident we will deliver, providing everybody works with us the way they have been up-to-date.

Mr Warner: Again, going back to the aborted World 2005 Athletic Championships, those in athletics are only going to believe there is going to be a great 25,000-seater legacy stadium with a roof, with a warm-up track, with adequate parking for people using it for community use on the day it opens. We have had to lobby very hard to date to ensure there is, for example, a roof afterwards by using what I would consider to be some pretty powerful but very simple arguments such as, can you expect to get a football club to ask their fans to stand or sit in the pouring rain all winter when there is not a roof on the stadium? Very, very last minute before the stadium was unveiled a couple of weeks ago it became clear to us there would be a roof in legacy; that a place had been found to keep a warm-up track, which is critical for community use and for us to bid for future major championships. To my mind it is still a number of years out before that opens, potentially a change in the political landscape between now and then with a General Election to get through, and potentially some key budgetary discussions to be had which have been very topical in the last few weeks and will no doubt remain so for the next five years. We will continue to lobby and work hard on that basis. We have yet to discover who the landlord will be, which is going to be absolutely critical. We will do all we can to work with the ODA to find the right landlord and to find the right co-tenants. As you know, the great promise to the IOC was that there would be an athletics legacy in the East End of London, and that promise was a strong one and we have been working behind that very hard, but we think we are going to have to continue to do so; and we will not be convinced of that until it is open. Our view is that is necessary in London. Crystal Palace is crumbling and very inaccessible and there is an opportunity here for something which is neither of those things, which would be fantastic for athletics.

Q39 Mr Evans: You see Crystal Palace as going?

Mr Warner: I think that is to be debated as well; but it is not a great facility; it does not even have a warm-up track; people warm-up on the plastic hockey pitch, which is not ideal behind the scenes. It looks great on television because it is well dressed but it needs an awful lot spending on it. I would say a conurbation with 12 million people in it deserves more than one great athletics facility. For us it is not an either/or; we will work on it being a "both"; but we would be very concerned that we might not get the right thing in Stratford; and that would be, to my mind, a massive waste and an opportunity missed if that was allowed to happen. That has to be our top priority. For us Crystal Palace should remain an athletic centre of some sort to be defined.

Mr King: The cycling has the potential to be absolutely world-class. It should be the very best anywhere in the world. As I said earlier, it does have to replace the facility which was there before the Olympics came along which was our most heavily used facility. Although the Olympic venues themselves, the velodrome and BMX track, will be absolutely first-class, we did feel obliged to lodge an objection to the outline planning application, insofar as it indicated what the legacy facilities would be, because actually we did not feel they were adequate. We are in ongoing consultation and negotiation with the ODA about that, and I am optimistic that at the end of the day we will actually be able to see that there is a world-class facility there. Hopefully we would then be able to withdraw our objections and see a lot of people getting a lot of cycling activity on the site. We are confident about that. The Lee Valley Authority are the intended landlords; they are the intended managers; they are very enthusiastic about cycling, and we see a great future for it.

Q40 Philip Davies: You have talked a lot about the legacy and that was one of the key parts of our bid for the Olympics, that there would be a massive sporting legacy. I think, David, you touched on this and basically said this has never happened before, that an Olympic Games has led to a huge sporting legacy in other countries. Why can we be confident that in London 2012 it is going to be different and it will have a huge sporting legacy in your sports, rather than the Wimbledon syndrome, where everybody plays tennis for three weeks while Wimbledon is on and then everybody goes back to watching football and playing football again afterwards? Why is it going to be different this time?

Mr Sparkes: I was in Singapore and I can tell you I sat down and listened to the bid team making the presentation and the hairs on the back of my neck went up and I really believed there was an opportunity here and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to really get legacy all round the nation and get everybody excited about the Olympic Games. I believe there is some fantastic work going on. The Chairman referred to the work we are doing in terms of everyday swimming, which is about changing the culture of swimming in this country, and about inspiring more people, different markets, to go swimming more often and to use the Olympics as part of that mix. We believe that is a massive opportunity and we are already in discussions with Sport England about everyday swimming too which is about trying to get that rolled out so it gets into every corner of the country. My concern, and this is just my personal concern, is I do not believe yet there is anybody who has actually picked up the legacy ball for sport. I say "sport". We are doing our bit for swimming and I guess others, you will hear, will be doing their bit for their sport; but I do not believe there is anybody yet who is joining up the dots of all this work. I ask the question: where is the driver that is knitting this together? I do believe the promise we gave in Singapore was that we would use this as an inspirational tool to inspire the young people of this nation, and to inspire the young people of the world, if my memory is correct, to actually re-engage with sport. I think it is incumbent upon us to make sure that this Olympics is an inspirational Olympics and does drive the participation agenda. Make no bones about it - that is a really tough call. That is as tough as getting on to the top of the podium and if we are going to do that properly someone has to pick up that legacy ball for sport.

Q41 Philip Davies: Who should it be?

Mr Sparkes: I could throw that back at you and say that is a decision for Government. In my view, and I will be quite blunt about it, the ball should firmly sit with Sport England because sport is a devolved responsibility; whether I enjoy that is another matter; we could probably spend an hour talking about that, but with a Scotsman next to me I will be careful! Seriously, at the end of the day, someone has to be the person shouting for sport, and that should be Sport England, and they should be given the responsibility of using the Olympics to drive forward the enthusiasm of the young people in this country for sport, and there is no question about that.

Q42 Philip Davies: It is not just a question of inspiring young people to take up sport, because the Association of British Athletics Clubs have been reporting that volunteers at club level are disappearing at an alarming rate. In order to have a sporting legacy you cannot just have the young people, you need the volunteers, so how are you going to inspire the volunteers.

Mr Warner: If you have got time for a 20 second anecdote. Early in my time at UK Athletics I addressed a conference of 200 officials at the National Motorcycle Museum and I gave the usual ra-ra speech thanking them for their volunteer work etc etc, and in passing said that 2012 would be a great opportunity for them because London 2012 was going to need people raking up long-jump pits, measuring javelin throws etc etc. Over coffee afterwards a chap came to me and said, "Thanks very much for the speech, Ed. Thank for coming along. No-one ever does in this organisation. We are very grateful to you. However, you have got to understand that London 2012 is a major disincentive for all of us in this room". I said, "Why is that?" He said, "Because we've all worked out we're going to be too old then to do the job that's required of us as officials". If you looked across the room it was typically a pretty elderly collection of people. We are convinced that 2012 can bring through technical officials, coaches, volunteers at all levels but the work for that has to be in the grass roots. As UK Athletics we can set a strategic framework within which those things can happen, but actually it is the money that comes from Sport England, Scotland, the Welsh Sports Council and goes into the locality that must be activated at club level. Clubs are at the fabric of our grass root sport. They are entirely volunteer-based; and we need to work hard to convert what are typically parents or retired athletes to remain in the sport or get active in a sport to fulfil those roles. You could be at the moment a teenager, in your early 20s or whatever it might be, and there is an Olympic dream for you and it might be raking the sandpit in the stadium, and that could be a fantastic life experience for you. We need to work out a way to connect with those people. As you know, hundreds of thousands of people, maybe millions by now, have registered on the LOCOG website to be volunteers at 2012. Those who deserve to be chosen when it comes to the time should be those who have worked in grass root sports in the intervening five or six years. We will work with Sport England to do that. We will work with England athletics; Scottish athletics etc etc. You cannot dictate those things from on high; they have to happen at a local level. You asked earlier whose responsibility is it to ensure this legacy, I am not passing the ball to Sport England; I want to work with Sport England for them to have a participation agenda in the sport and not purely a health and fitness regime. While I know that an active nation, a sporting nation, makes for a lower health service budget, that is not necessarily in the interests of UK athletics and the future of track and field. We need people participating in the sport, and I am sure the same is true of the sports either side of me.

Q43 Philip Davies: Chris, could I just bring in cycling because you seemed to have mentioned earlier and I got the impression that you were partly pinning your hopes on better facilities leading to more participation in cycling. We have been round different places that have hosted the Olympics and seen some fantastic facilities which are like Dodge City, where nobody uses them and they have just become huge financial white elephants. Why should it be any different in this country providing great facilities where nobody uses them? Providing facilities does not seem in itself to provide a legacy of participation in sport.

Mr Boardman: There are a couple of aspects to this. I actually reviewed our talent process in 2004 and one of the things I identified as part of the six-month study was right at the bottom end, the people we are talking about trying to attract here, there had to be something in it for them. To be involved in a child's life at the time they start to form peer groups you have to have an activity that is at least once a week, preferably three times a week to be part of their social structure, and their parents. We cannot do that with two facilities in the country. If you want to look specifically at facilities, those two facilities are working at capacity so that is the best advert you can have really for saying that we need another one. It is a great problem to have. There are 500 metres of Olympic standard cycle track in this country and that is it for everybody to use. There are outdoor facilities and we make the absolute most of those, but it is very, very different. There are a number of different strands. Really I could throw it back to Government and say that the one thing our sport needs that is fairly unique is we need roads to ride on that are safe to do so, and ones where you would say to your kids, "Yes, that's fine, you go down the shop through the local village on your bike". That is going to be an increasing challenge. I feel we are doing our part. We have actually created some great club links now, we have those things and they are working. We have actually got really good people for the first time as well all the way throughout who can actually work with the clubs, and that part is working, but we still need to use the roads.

Q44 Paul Farrelly: Firstly, Mr Sparkes, I am very glad you said what you did because this is something we need to follow up with Sport England. In this country in terms of legacy and infrastructure there is already concern because of the raid on the Lottery that areas that would have qualified, for instance, for Lottery grants for swimming pools are just not qualifying any more. There is a concern about the effect on non-Olympic sports such as rugby outside London. In London, given the pitch that we made, it is remarkable to see that actually there is nothing in place at the moment in schools in London as a starting point to get people excited. Many of the schools in Lambeth and Hackney do not have a blade of grass there; they do not have access to athletics tracks; they cannot play football; kids are not being taught to swim until the age of nine or ten. In terms of what UK Sport's role in this is, has anyone from UK Sport come to you to say, "This is what we want you to do starting with, say, the schools in London, the boroughs involved in the Olympics. This is what we are going to do, and this is what we want you to do"? Has nothing like that happened here?

Mr Sparkes: There are a number of things. First of all, it is not UK Sport's remit. UK Sport is dealing with the elite.

Q45 Paul Farrelly: Sport England?

Mr Sparkes: There are a number of agencies we are working with. We are working with the DCFS, the Department for Children, Families and Schools, on a project which is about top up school swimming which works again with the Youth Sport Trust and works through the schools network. Basically, that is about making sure that every youngster gets an opportunity to learn to swim and that those who have not learned to swim through the normal school swimming actually get swimming through a top ups programme. Interestingly, a report which was produced I think this week by Ofsted suggests that 83% of children are learning to swim through school. It also suggests that, of those children are coming through the top ups programme, more than 50% are learning to swim. For some of them, that is the first thing they have ever achieved in school. There are some green shoots. What the report also highlights is that we still are not getting to some of the communities out there. We need to learn that we have to go out and reach into the community to get them into the swimming pool. What we do know in London is we need more swimming pools. We know that we need better swimming pools. If I can just ask the Committee to reflect on when they learned to swim, it is really important that that learning to swim is a magic moment because that is what follows you for the rest of your life. That is what inspires you to swim, to run, to be a sportsman. Learning to swim is like learning to ride a bike. It is like learning to walk. It has to be really important. Having great coaches at that moment is really important. Are we working with the communities? Yes, we are but is it all joined up? No, it is not. That is the point I think you are making. You are right. There needs to be a total, joined up strategy. I believe that there should be a sporting strategy across London which says what facilities do we need; how are we going to get people in London doing more sport more often; how are we going to get the clubs to be vibrant within the London area. I am frustrated by nobody joining up the dots. I think that is the area that needs attention. I would pass the ball to Sport England, maybe unfairly, but it is the only organisation I can see that can really deliver in that area. I have tried to answer your question by saying there is some good work going on. What we need to be doing now is to make sure that it is across London and everybody feels it.

Q46 Paul Farrelly: The Aquatic Centre is going to be the Wembley for swimming.

Mr Sparkes: Yes.

Q47 Paul Farrelly: Why only one or potentially no bidders?

Mr Sparkes: To build it?

Q48 Paul Farrelly: Yes.

Mr Sparkes: You had better put that question to the ODA because I am not in the construction business. I do not know enough about it. The answer is I do not know.

Chairman: Thank you all very much indeed.


Memorandum submitted by UK Sport

 

Examination of Witnesses

 

Witnesses: Ms Sue Campbell, Chair, and Mr Peter Keen, Head of Performance, UK Sport, gave evidence.

Q49 Chairman: For our final session this morning, can I welcome Sue Campbell, chairman of UK Sport, and Peter Keen, head of performance? My apologies for keeping you waiting. You will have heard the discussion we had earlier with the sporting bodies about their prospects in the medal table. The target of fourth that was set clearly is an extremely ambitious one. Was there a certain element of setting a high target and hoping that might lever out a bit more money from the Treasury, or are you confident that it is realistic?

Ms Campbell: It was a realistic goal that we set in terms of looking at the existing medal tables and looking at what we felt, with the kind of resources and with the right kind of support, we could achieve. We then used that aspirational goal to develop a business plan based on that which showed the number of athletes, the number of development athletes, the way the system would have to be developed in order for us to achieve that target. Yes, it is a stretch target and a stretch goal but it is one we are very confident that we are on course to achieve still.

Q50 Chairman: The target of eighth at Beijing you are also hopeful of achieving?

Ms Campbell: Yes. You heard David and Ed say that China will be a challenge that will be very significant for all of us. Certainly if we look at where we have been this summer, the indicators are all very good. We are making good improvements across the board. We have seen exceptional performances in cycling, rowing and sailing again this year, but we have also seen the green shoots of athletics. We have seen some changes in swimming and other sports, so yes, that is still a goal that we believe is achievable. Of course, China will be China and what we do not know is what we are going to face in terms of the opposition in China.

Q51 Chairman: What you do know is how we are doing in terms of the number of competitors qualifying. How are we doing at the moment and how does that compare with the equivalent state of athletics?

Ms Campbell: We have 125 qualified at this point plus four named individuals. That is because there are some changes in the quota and who goes. It is compared to 60 pre-Athens at the same time. However, the competitions that have been there this time have been slightly different to the pre-Athens year, so it is not like for like, but it is very positive and very optimistic that we are getting more people in that medal zone.

Q52 Chairman: Clearly the difference is so huge that there is a significant improvement this time compared to Athens.

Ms Campbell: Yes, it is a good improvement.

Mr Keen: It is a very positive message. It is dangerous to just try and extrapolate directly from one year to the next on the basis of medals but, looking at the Olympic disciplines in sports where they had a world championship in the year before and the year we are in, we have won 41 medals. The best estimate of what would be required to finish eighth in Beijing is 35 so we are where we should be going into an Olympic year. I think it is a very positive scenario and obviously it is always different in an Olympic environment but compared to pre-Athens we are considerably stronger and indeed seeing some rising profiles in sports that are now starting to come to the fore.

Q53 Chairman: Can you tell us a bit more about how you decide to allocate resources between particular sports? If a sport performs poorly, such as swimming previously, would you see that as a reason for cutting back and concentrating on where there is clearly a better chance or would you see it as a reason for putting more money in to try and develop people who could win medals?

Mr Keen: What we try to do through the investment strategy is really look at where a sport can be within four years. We are looking to invest rather than to reward, but that process starts with an analysis of what we have now. Have we athletes that can podium who have reached the podium? Are they likely to stay around? Who is following behind them? I think the simple answer to the question is not necessarily. If a sport can evidence that things are in place, that good development investment is coming through, that there are legitimate and well presented cases for why things did not succeed in the way they should have, then it will get continued support. Indeed, there is evidence of that historically already in sports like the triathlon. In the two Olympic Games where the sport has been included, they have not delivered the medals that they promised going in. When I say "promised", they had existing world champions, people who were clearly capable of winning. In the intervening years, in the previous two Olympic cycles, they have continued to produce world championship gold medallists at all levels of international competition. They continue to benefit from our support and our investment but increasingly questions are asked. What is it stopping you delivering at the highest level in the Olympic arena? It is not as simple as: if you win, you are rewarded; if you do not, you are cut.

Q54 Chairman: You would concentrate therefore more on the number of individuals who showed a pretty good chance of winning rather than actually winning a medal?

Ms Campbell: That has been one of the defining differences over the last few years. We focus down on people who really have a potential to succeed. Initially when lottery money first came in, in 1997, there was a tendency to try and spread lottery money as widely as possible but we have really, I think, taken a much stronger business approach which is let us invest in those athletes that have a real potential and a real chance to succeed at the highest level.

Q55 Alan Keen: This is a challenge for you. Sporting giants? It sounds like some story. It sounds mad to me. Convince me that it is not.

Ms Campbell: Yes, I can understand why you might think that but it has been very successful. It has been one strategy. We had to find some short term talent identification strategies whilst in the medium and long term building better talent identification systems throughout sport, because that is a long term process. The sporting giants idea was to get tall people who had athletic ability and who had an aspiration to perhaps take part in the Olympics to come along. 5,000 people signed up for that. We have held some sifting days for handball and basket ball and rowing and we have found some potential, some very, very strong individuals who potentially will make it. We found a lot of what I suppose you would call dormant talent, people who had performed in lots of different sports but had not really picked up on one particular sport. We have found some talent. We have found some people that are now in our Olympic development squads. The other thing we have done is we have had a really good look at people who perhaps had aspirations in a particular sport - for example, gymnastics - followed it to the point where they did not feel they were going to make it, and we have given them a chance to have a look at whether they might transfer to something for example like diving. We are looking for talent, I suppose, in a myriad of ways to try and give anybody who has the potential to succeed an opportunity to do so, whilst at the same time systematically working with sports to improve their talent identification processes for the future.

Q56 Alan Keen: The principle I could not disagree with but when you listened to the last people giving evidence it is absolutely crucial that they have facilities. It seems that would have been a much better way to spend this money. How much money is being spent on the sporting giants?

Ms Campbell: I do not know but can I come back to you on that?

Q57 Alan Keen: Is it a few millions though?

Ms Campbell: I do not think it was that much but I will come back to you on it.

Q58 Alan Keen: It is not an idea that sounds abhorrent to me because there are lots of people who never get into sport. This came from this morning.

Ms Campbell: I am still limping from my hockey injury on Saturday so we are a great advert between us.

Q59 Alan Keen: If I had a preference, I would put more money into grass roots than sporting excellence and elite sports. We all like to see someone win an Olympic medal but if we only win one, usually, and suddenly at one Olympics we win two, we are not being really fair. If we are going to win seven or eight ----

Ms Campbell: It would be wrong to get out of perspective. Whilst we are here as UK Sport and our role is elite sport, we are spending on average 100 million a year on the excellence investment. We should not forget that 300 million a year is going into school sport and Sport England, Sport Scotland, the Sports Council for Wales and the Sports Council for Northern Ireland are spending between them well over 300 million in community sport. This 100 million we are spending on excellence is not the only money being spent on the development of gestation. If you were to look at the proportions of investment in Australia, you would see they are much greater on excellence than on grass roots so in overall terms we are investing, I think, across the board.

Q60 Alan Keen: These sports that are Olympic sports but sports which we do not really have any background in at all: what is the point in spending a lot of money on them instead of putting it into the additional sports? I remember going to Greece and asking the Greeks what they thought, just before the Olympics started there. We saw a softball game and the Greeks had no idea what it was all about. Why would they even build a stadium for the sport? Is the Olympics much too broad? Do we not listen to the IOC too much instead of having more influence ourselves on these things?

Ms Campbell: They are really good questions. The opportunity, being a home nation, of being allowed to enter a team into every sport that is there is a unique one and I think it comes back to a question that was asked earlier. Does that showcase really drive mass participation? It is a showcase opportunity for all of those sports and to help us widen the base of young people taking part in sport and seeing that there are alternative sports to the more traditional offer that they presently have. When we took our model to the Treasury, it was based obviously on medal success but it was also based on those sports achieving a credible level in performance at the Olympics, so showcasing sport very effectively and hopefully being able to build mass participation off the back of that. That was the investment model we took, but the long term objective for us as an organisation is not just medals. The long term objective for UK Sport is to work with the governing bodies to ensure that we develop a world class system that lives long beyond 2012, long beyond the medal count, where people look at it from around the world and say, "That is one of the best systems in the world, if not the best system in the world", because that is what this investment is doing. It is not just about medals for us. It is about building a world class system.

Q61 Alan Keen: I must say I am amazed you persuaded the Treasury to spend the money. We know that women's football - the proof is in the United States - can become immensely popular and we can get a million or two million women into active sport, putting money into women's football. They are short of facilities, coaches and that sort of thing. There is great potential. I would put it to you that it has 25 million times more chance of bringing people into sport than trying to convince people to play softball for instance. I am still not convinced.

Ms Campbell: First of all, can I just separate out that UK Sport does not invest in facilities. The facilities strategy, which includes the comments that David made about velodromes and so on, is a strategy that is managed by Sport England. They do the capital investment. Ours is revenue. It is the people and the systems that will drive elite sport, so it is investment in the athlete, the coach, the performance director and all of the sports science and sports medicine people that surround that. We are not the facility people. Your argument about better facilities, more facilities, I would be very happy to discuss with you but it is not our responsibility. To give handball an opportunity to demonstrate whether or not in this time that we are working with them now they can get to a level where they will be able to showcase handball effectively and relatively successfully - it will not be a medal - will mean that they will be able to show to a sporting nation a sport that perhaps some young people will find both interesting, exciting and inspirational. It is an opportunity to inspire participation across a much wider range of sports.

Alan Keen: Certainly curling would be the proof, would it not? We are all excited over curling. We had never heard of it before. Thanks ever so much.

Q62 Paul Farrelly: This is only slightly tongue in cheek. Does your sporting giants programme mean that rugby union is going to be short of second row forwards in the future?

Ms Campbell: No, I doubt it. Most of these young people that came to us were people who have not taken a particular sport route. They were playing lots of different sports. Quite a lot of them were at university doing a number of sports but had not excelled in one particular sport. They were quite athletic and when we did the profiling on them and brought in the world class coaches to look at them they were amazed at the quality of physical skills of some of these young people. We are quite excited by the programme. It has given some people who would not have dreamed of having an opportunity of going to an Olympic Games an opportunity to do so.

Q63 Paul Farrelly: It is expansionist; it is not coaching because the money is there?

Ms Campbell: No, it is not.

Q64 Chairman: Can I touch on one other aspect of the search for potential medal winners? There has been some controversy about the way in which we seem to be scouring the world to try and find people who have a very distant link to this country who might therefore somehow qualify as British if they show the slightest potential for winning a medal. Do you think that that is a sensible strategy?

Ms Campbell: It is certainly a strategy other countries have used to their best effect. We have certainly kept to a very clear line. If those people legitimately are British citizens and are living somewhere else or have the potential to be British citizens and wish to compete for this country, then yes.

Q65 Chairman: Or could be fast tracked into becoming British citizens?

Ms Campbell: I am not sure the Home Office would like that statement so I will say that people who have the potential to legitimately be British citizens we would welcome to be involved. If we believe that the Olympics is an aspirational goal for any person in sport - and it is; it is one of the greatest shows in the world in sport terms - then of course people are going to try very hard to take part in the Olympics.

Q66 Chairman: Would you not accept that support in the country for somebody who has been born and brought up here and quite plainly whose roots are here is going to be greater than for somebody who probably has not set foot in Britain until just a few months before the Games?

Ms Campbell: It is unlikely that anybody who has set foot in the country a few months before the Games would be in the squad or have qualified effectively, so they would have to be here an awful lot longer than that. No. The approach we have taken - I do not think this is going to apply to many people at all; I think you are talking about a very, very small number of people - is that, if they qualify for a British passport and they are of the right standard and have the world class aspirations, yes, we will include them.

Q67 Philip Davies: In terms of this minority sport point that Alan was making, I am interested to know about whether there is a hierarchy of sports within the Olympic field for UK Sport. For example, if two people had a good chance of winning a gold medal in synchronised swimming, would they get exactly the same level of support that they needed in the same way that somebody who had a chance of winning the 100 metres would, or do you take the view that, because very few people would take up synchronised swimming or whatever, they will be slightly short changed and you will put lots more money into the 100 metres chap? How does that work?

Mr Keen: Our approach to the whole investment strategy and indeed the funding that is now in place is, I guess in principle, that there is no difference between a synchronised swimming medal and a 100 metres medal. It is going to cost, broadly speaking, the same amount of time and effort, dedication, training and everything else required to achieve that. The debate you are alluding to is one of many that have been rehearsed over many years over funding within the sports along the lines of: "We are more important than them" or "Our result would be more prized by the nation", etc. On the continuum of where these sports sit is also a parallel continuum of the commercial and financial attractions that they have. Sports that have a very low profile that may be able to win medals often need, they will argue, more funding because they cannot attract the kind of commercial interest or economic support that would come to sport that has a very high TV profile and a very large participation base. At the other extreme, those sports tend to argue that they are the ones people are interested in; therefore, they should receive more funding. What we have managed to do through our approach is to balance all those arguments to the point where the focus within the sports is can we medal or not; is this the right athlete; are these the right people to give support. The real costs of preparing to compete at the highest level in the Olympic arena are remarkably consistent in terms of the core elements. They are about time and travelling the world. They are about the support people you need in place.

Q68 Philip Davies: Surely in terms of the sporting legacy that we are all trying to see delivered, there is more chance of that being inspired by a 100 metres champion than there is by two people winning gold in synchronised swimming? Would you not accept that in terms of long term sporting legacy and participation there is a difference between those sports?

Mr Keen: Quite possibly but I think the answer we got from UK Athletics earlier was in fact they have the finance they need to succeed. The investment we make in them is not limiting what they can achieve there. Their problem is that there are 200 nations competing for the same title, I guess, so in a sense we can tick that box and say the investment is secure. Indeed, the benefits to that sport of winning that would be a huge increase in participation maybe, maybe more increase in commercial investment in their sport, which incidentally tends to feed the grass roots, which is an interesting twist to the benefits of investing in elite sport. When you get those successes, you attract the major corporations. They are usually interested in marketing to mums and children and people who are about participation initiatives rather than putting more money into the elite preparation programmes. There is a cause and effect there.

Q69 Chairman: I am afraid I have to host a lunch downstairs so I am going to have to disappear. Alan Keen is going to take over the chair for the remainder of this session. I am sorry to have to leave you.

(In the absence of the Chairman, Alan Keen was called to the Chair)

Mr Keen: At the other extreme, the opportunities we do have to medal in the Olympic arena are in a whole range of diverse sports that many people know very little about. We had evidence from somebody who coached for 13 years, who sat here, Chris Boardman, who probably many people still now recall. Prior to his win in 1992, very few people had heard of him, his event or indeed track cycling. Over the course of some three Olympic cycles now, it has grown into a sport which is starting to attract more of a participation base. I do not think we can rule out minority sports or individuals breaking through in the Olympic arena and creating momentum. The cost remains the same and I think that has been the logic all along.

Q70 Mr Evans: Is there enough funding going into the elite sports or do you think that extra funding could get us that medal tally that we are looking for in London 2012?

Ms Campbell: When we presented the business plan to the Treasury, I think we had researched that; Peter had researched that really thoroughly and we thought that the aspirational goal of fourth place was achievable if we got a certain amount of income. That income is there. I think you have heard the sports say themselves they feel they have enough resource. I think it is now about making that money work very hard. One of the ways that we are trying, in partnership with the governing bodies, to manage keeping us all on task is that we have introduced a thing called the 2012 Mission, which on a quarterly basis will allow us to meet with David and his staff and Ed and Peter to make sure that we really are on task and that, if there are red issues, if there are concerns about something that has happened, we all put our best effort into resolving those. We have enough resource. We still have the outstanding 100 million because if you recall we asked for 300 million from the Treasury and it was announced that the government would give us 200 million and there would be 100 million from the private sector, which is the responsibility of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. If that 600 million is forthcoming, we have enough resource and our job is to make that work.

Q71 Mr Evans: I was going to ask you about the private sector because the government in 2006 say that 100 million could be raised from the private sector for elite sports. You commissioned a report into that, I understand.

Ms Campbell: It is the responsibility of the DCMS to get that money. Our job obviously is to support that the very best way we can. It is fundamentally critical to our mission and it is certainly important to the mission of the governing bodies and our aspirations for 2012. We have made progress on that. We have had long discussions with LOCOG because, as everybody was aware, it became a very busy market place and Paul Deighton and Lord Coe had a big enough job without us bumping into them, walking out of the same offices. We have listened and respectfully worked in partnership with them. They are now very supportive of the direction we are taking and we will support the Department to try to begin to raise that money in the new year. We have a strategy in place which we are all agreed on.

Q72 Mr Evans: It has not begun yet?

Ms Campbell: No.

Q73 Mr Evans: You are confident though that the 100 million can be raised?

Ms Campbell: I would like to sit here and say I am highly confident. I would like to think that it will be raised. It is absolutely critical to the mission that we have that 100 million. Without that 100 million many of the ambitions we are talking about will be difficult to achieve, but we are working very hard with the Department and we hope that we have a strategy in place that will begin to make inroads into that very rapidly in 2009.

Mr Keen: With the obvious caveat that the 100 million needs to be in place, one of the critical debates around the adequacy of funding is about balance. There is now, not just from the three sports you heard from today, but probably a really consistent message now across all the sports we fund that the funding for the elite part of their world is adequate. If we were to add more and more to that, it is getting too top heavy. Where they would put it, given a choice, is below. Like in a lot of sports, being lean and light is an advantage. The funding that is in place is enough to keep some quite lean operations with relatively few athletes doing it properly. The real opportunity with more investment is below and I think that is a very important message that sports themselves are now putting back to us. It is around facilities. It is around more club activities, building a presence in communities for sports development and the pathways leading into excellence.

Q74 Mr Evans: As far as the National Lottery is concerned as part of your business plan as well, is that all on stream? Are you confident that the money will be coming in and there will not be any shortfalls?

Ms Campbell: We have some shortfall at the moment because there is a dip in lottery income. However, that does tend to happen towards the end. The cycle does tend to go up and down. It does fluctuate. The new contract begins in 2009 with Camelot and we believe there will be a very significant drive and push there. We hope that that fluctuation will be able to be managed. It will be challenging for us but we have strategies in place and we are managing that very tightly through our business unit.

Q75 Mr Evans: What is the shortfall at the moment?

Ms Campbell: We are down about three million.

Q76 Mr Evans: What is the strategy you have in place in case it does not iron itself out and there is not a boost?

Ms Campbell: We have always taken what we have called a no compromise approach which means that the athletes are the most important part of this whole strategy, making sure that we have the resources around the athlete to do the job we need to do. It is looking at the ways of cutting other elements of programmes before we get to that part. Ultimately, if the bid downturn or the 100 million is not forthcoming, we would have some tough decisions to make about where our existing investment goes. That is true of any business, is it not?

Q77 Mr Evans: Absolutely. When will those decisions come forward?

Ms Campbell: We like to give indicative figures running into the 2008 Games because quite clearly, if you are funding a four year programme and you are wanting to employ the best coaches, best performance directors and best technical experts in the world, you do not want to be left until March, not finding out whether you have a four year contract or not. Those decisions are going to have to be made within the next year certainly.

Q78 Paul Farrelly: I keep coming in these sessions and previously to what we are doing to realise a legacy for sport and to realise the very foundation on which the bid was made. The bid in Singapore was not quite raggedy arsed children in the East End in cloth caps with small braces, chewing Blackjacks, but it was in that vein. I am familiar with Hackney, for instance, and I do not see anything on the ground which is there to tell children not only that the Olympics are coming soon to a great stadium near them; but this is what it means for you now in terms of your access to opportunities to do sport. We heard previously that Sport England has been collared as the body that should take us by the scruff of the neck and join up the dots. What are you doing? Do you agree with that assessment that Sport England should be the body to encourage youth for instance to get the athletes like Kelly Holmes and Steve Redgrave out into the schools and the community to make sure that we realise what we set out to achieve in the bid, rather than it just simply being hollow words to win the Olympics?

Ms Campbell: That is a really important question and one I am personally very passionate about. The role of UK Sport, other than world class performance, and our responsibility is the anti-doping programme and international work. As part of our international framework we are leading a consortium of partners to deliver the international aspect of the legacy. We will be working with UNICEF, Right to Play, which is one of the IFC charities, the Youth Sport Trust, the British Council and UK Sport is leading that consortium. We are all working together. We have some initial investment to commence work in five countries and our ambition is to reach 20 countries around the world. To do that we are hoping to get money from DFID and so on.

Q79 Paul Farrelly: What about here?

Ms Campbell: You asked me what was UK Sport doing so our job is to lead the international legacy. That is our role. Here, wearing a completely different hat, I am chair of the Youth Sport Trust, which is the organisation that is helping to support the 300 million a year investment into physical education and school sport. We do have Kelly Holmes as our national school sport champion. There is an unprecedented amount of investment in schools. This is in England now, I have to say very quickly, not in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I am not saying there is no investment but I do not know about that. In England there is an unprecedented amount of investment. There are people now in every primary and secondary school responsible for increasing out of school activity, inter-school sport, competitive school sport. Kelly Holmes is going round, doing fantastic work. She has been an outstanding role model. She is also very interested in making a difference, not just appearing but really making a difference. We also have Darren Campbell, Denise Lewis, Tanni Grey-Thompson all working with us, going around schools. Connecting that into the London dream, into the London vision, into the Olympic dream, David is right, that connection has not been made yet. LOCOG are working and do have an education team working out a strategy which will embrace everything I am saying and other things. That strategy which will I hope join up some of the dots has not been launched yet. Once it is, we will all - that is, we, everybody in schools, we at UK Sport and the governing bodies - be able to drive the message through to the grass roots.

Q80 Alan Keen: Thank you so much for your contribution and I am really sorry we kept you waiting such a long time. Good luck with everything. Obviously you will be back again before the Olympics. Thank you very much indeed.

Ms Campbell: I am afraid we probably will, yes. Thank you very much indeed for your time.