YP Comment: Team GB and its Max factor. Olympics win the Lottery jackpot
In 1992, UK competitors won five gold medals at Barcelona – and worse was to come four years later at Atlanta when Britain’s blushes were only spared by Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent in rowing’s coxless pairs.
Now Britain is a global sporting superpower after winning five gold medals on Sunday alone, culminating in Andy Murray becoming the first tennis player in history to defend a singles title. His sheer willpower against Argentina’s big-hitting Juan Martin del Potro – both men played themselves to a standstill in a gladitorial-like atmosphere – now eptitomises the ethos of elite sport as Murray strengthened his status as an all-time great.
Of course much of this success would not be possible without the advent of National Lottery funding – the Max factor – and John Major, a prime minister mocked by some, deserves a medal of his own for his foresight. He truly appreciated the positive power of sport. Without this new source of funding, sports like gymnastics might not have produced global stars like Max Whitlock capable of winning two separate events on one giddy evening.
It’s taken 20 years to reach this point – success does not happen overnight – and the challenge now is making sure that all Olympic sports receive sufficient funding over the next two decades.
Though UK Sport has changed the mentality and mindset by targeting resources at those sports, like rowing and cycling, which produce medal-winners, it has often been at the expense of team sports, like basketball, where the chances of Olympic success are limited. Yet, given that participants simply need a pair of trainers, a ball and a net, the opportunities could be limitless as the Olympics becomes a whole new game, not just for Team GB but communities across the country as they tackle youth crime and obesity. The prize is that big.
The city challenge: Schools and industry must link
AS THE York-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation is the first to accept, regeneration has bought renewed impetus to the North’s major cities in spite of the economic and social challenges that remain.
The downside, however, is that there is that there are local people who cannot make the most of these opportunities because they do not have the requisite skills, a shortcoming which will come into even sharper with the publication of this year’s A-Level results on Thursday.
If Theresa May’s new industrial strategy is to work for all, as the Prime Minister clearly hopes and expects, there needs to be a far closer collaboration between employers and the education establishment so the jobless have a better chance of acquiring the jobs which are available in Yorkshire, and without having to relocate.
The benefits would be three-fold. First, reluctant students might be more likely to raise their game, academically-speaking, of they actually meet role models from the world of business who can talk about the importance of qualifications and so on. Second, improved links will ensure that the curriculum being taught by teachers is the most relevant from the viewpoint of employers. Third, it might prompt the Government to recognise the importance of investing in local colleges rather than leaving post-16 education at the mercy of spending cuts. This is the way forward if Yorkshire’s cities are to fulfil their true potential and enable all sections of society to prosper.
Home comforts in Hull
IF HULL is to make the most of its special status as the 2017 UK City of Culture, it will be because of the goodwill of local people. Judging by the thousands of people who volunteered to reveal all for the Sea of Hull mass nude art installation, there’s every reason that this showpiece event will exceed expectations – even if a dearth of hotel places means local families are being asked to open their homes to the expected influx of visitors.
And why not? They’re the very people who can be counted upon to show off their city in the most positive light possible. Despite its economic and social challenges in recent decades, the strength of community – Hull’s greatest asset – has never flagged.
All that remains to be seen is whether Baron Prescott, of Kingston upon Hull in the County of East Yorkshire will be entering into the spirit and providing B&B like no other at Prescott Towers? His family, and others, should do so, if they’re to make the most of this Hull of an opportunity.