Four key reasons why we can raise bar for Rio

British Olympic Association chairman Lord Coe believes London 2012 helped to change the political landscape with regards to how sport is now viewed.

Lord Coe

Coe, a former Conservative member of parliament, was the chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Games. He also took on the role of government’s Olympic and Paralympic legacy ambassador following the success of London 2012, with the BOA receiving a cash injection of £5.3m after LOCOG’s final accounts showed a profit.

Coe said: “The real challenge was making a difference in the four key areas.

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“The Prime Minister gave me a triage of things to deal with really. One was to get school sport out of critical care, to get as much as we could in the first year for British businesses, and to get the stadium off the agenda, and make sure east London maintained the progress around the venues.

“I wanted to try to do two things, to meet those objectives, and I moved the priorities around to get people to focus on school sport. The real challenge was making a difference in those four key areas.”

Coe added: “Has that (political) mindset really been enshrined now? I think we are a seismic distance down the road from where we were a year ago across all of these projects. The real challenge, of course, is to now maintain that mindset.”

Coe, who was a two-time Olympic champion over 1,500m in the 1980s thanks largely to his hill training in Sheffield, also feels everything is in place for Team GB to raise the bar at the Rio Games in three years’ time.

The host nation finished third in the medals table at London 2012, with 29 golds from a total of 65 medals.

However, with the standard set so high, the next generation of aspiring British Olympians face a tall order to match those achievements in Brazil, when there will be no safety net of automatic qualification via home nation places and competition played out in a very different environment from the euphoria which surrounded events 12 months ago.

Coe said: “Yes (we can raise the bar), but it will be done because you keep the four ingredients together.

“You have got to have really smart national bodies, world-class coaching, you have got to have the pick of the bunch who are out there to be hungry and motivated to do what is increasingly becoming unfashionable – that is to just focus on one thing for 10 years to the exclusion of almost anything else – and you need predictable and high levels of funding.

“We have got all of those four, so there is no reason why we should not go to Rio in very good shape.”