We need to deliver Olympic legacy
WHAT a spectacle and what a golden success story. Those Olympic Games have come and gone leaving happy and jubilant memories for one and all. But what else will they leave behind?
I can hear you now — killjoy Parker is off on one.
I am not about to join the hundreds who, according to a story in one national newspaper last week, will be knocking on the door of their local doctor's surgery as depression sets in in the knowledge that the recession hasn't gone anywhere despite the euphoria of the Games.
I am simply wondering what actual legacy they will create for generations to come.
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Billions of pounds has been spent on the Olympic dream and countless millions invested in making sure our athletes were up there on top of the podium with the Union flag flying high and the national anthem being sung with undying passion.
But the Games are not just about winning gold, silver or bronze.
They are supposed to be about that legacy, a legacy to inspire.
Let me take you back a few months when a national row erupted when Education Secretary Michael Gove pulled the funding plug on school sports partnerships.
The partnerships were at the centre of a web of families of secondary schools and primary schools.
It was their job to make sure all pupils were given the chance of taking part in sport and sporting events, at the same time encouraging them to lead happier and healthier life styles no matter what ability levels.
The Herald Express School Games was a classic example.
Secondary and primary school children from every school in the Bay were brought together to compete against each other for the first time in a mini-Olympics-style event.
It was a resounding success and won the Torbay Sports Partnership national accolade.
In his wisdom, Mr Gove decided children should be made to be more competitive and the sports partnerships were all but killed.
There is still some money that comes down from central Government for school games organisers.
But now the cash goes straight to the schools and is not ring-fenced.
In other words, it doesn't have to be used for sport.
John Julyan was in charge of the Torbay Sports Partnership.
He believes the majority of schools are using the relevant money for sport but adds: "It is now about having a robust competitive structure so that kids can compete within school and against other schools and represent their areas and progress through the pathways of their national governing bodies."
He believes you cannot compare the money thrown at the Olympics with the axing of the sports partnership funding.
But he does believe: "The investment in the Olympics was fantastic but we need a really good infrastructure to deliver the Olympic legacy and inspire a generation that everybody is talking about.
"We do not have that infrastructure now there is no partnership money around.
"We had an infrastructure that was the best in the world and envied.
"That was the perfect model to deliver the legacy that everybody is talking about.
"Now it is about having youngsters competing.
"But you have to prepare them to compete.
"You have to have a range of opportunities so that all youngsters can experience competition at an appropriate level.
"They should still get PE as part of the curriculum diet.
"What they might not get is the programme of events that we organised as a sports partnership.
"The programme cannot be as extensive because there aren't the people around."
So, do we focus on the youngsters who want to compete and be the best — producing more of those golden moments?
Or do we focus on trying to encourage every youngster to take part in sport no matter how good they are?
If we are to create that truly lasting, inspiring Olympic legacy, I know which option I would choose.
THE seafront balloon is long gone.
Now we have the giant wheel instead.
The massive wheel has gone up on Torquay seafront towering over the adjacent Pavilion.
Community campaigner Susie Colley was a fierce critic of the balloon but is at pains to point out: "I was very much against it because it was on covenanted land."
She adds: "We have been assured the wheel will only be up until October.
"If it brings in added opportunities for the tourist trade then that's fine by me.
"I am quite happy about that — as long as they pay their rent which I am sure they will.
"It is an amazing size and impressive. I am sure it is a wonderful opportunity for the visitors to see the wonderful views.
"It is a much better than the balloon and a darned site cheaper."