Medal winner Tina Cook backs Olympic legacy delivery in Worthing, Shoreham and Littlehampton

SETTING out to inspire a generation was an immensely ambitious aspiration put forward by the organisers of the London 2012 games.

But as the curtain fell on what was widely-regarded as the most spectacular Olympics ever, thoughts soon turned on how to capitalise upon the nation’s apparent renewed thirst for sport.

With the Government now promising a genuine legacy for our younger generation, our own silver medal-winner, Findon equestrian Tina Cook, has joined sports organisations across the area in highlighting the need to ensure grass roots sport is given genuine backing.

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The Coalition has already pledged £1billion towards across four years towards school sports, but with funding cutbacks of more than £100million, there’s a sense this may not be nearly enough.

As Worthing Cricket Club player, school teacher and youth coach Andy Lutwyche explained, only additional regional financial support from Government will drive improvement of local facilities.

He said: “The whole point of Olympic legacy is to get kids playing more sport rather than sitting in front of computer games.

“But the coaching training players have to do costs hundreds of pounds and this can’t just be done on people’s good will alone.

“We would also like to get some new cricket nets, but they cost around £50,000.”

He also highlighted a number of issues with the club’s pavilion including decaying timbers, broken boiler and paintwork in urgent need of repair.

He added: “Schools are crying out for people to come and teach sports to them, but many places do not have the budgets. I found it almost an insult that it was suggested that teachers should be doing more on this – they are already playing their part.”

Manager of Lancing FC, Martin Gander, shared his frustration at the state of some of the area’s facilities, which he believed were not presently fit for purpose.

He said: “Everyone is proud of the Olympic Games, which have been wonderful.

“But I just don’t know how much places like Adur will get out of it – I do not think they’ll actually get anything.

“Even with Brighton wanting to have their training facilities in Lancing – they will be for elite players and not for the wider public.

“Many schools have lost their sporting facilities and the parks, such as Monks Rec, where some of the youth teams play, you’ve got a situation where grass is just growing around tin cans. Without funding, this can’t improve.”

Tennis coach Chris Kennedy, of Angmering-on-Sea Lawn Tennis Club, felt there was a strong mood of optimism at the club in the wake of the Olympics.

While revealing there were a number of talented prospects having played for the club, there’s presently a shortage of youngsters coming through its ranks.

“There’s always a need for addition funding to help finance community coaching schemes.

“But we are hoping that the success of Andy Murray and Laura Robson will filter down to us,” said Mr Kennedy.

As for track prospects, Dave Stevens, of Steyning Athletic Club, feared for the loss of its nearest facilities.

He said: “In light of the Olympics, I just hope we can keep the track at Horsham as it’s quite a way over to Worthing - we don’t have a proper track ourselves as it would cost big money.”

One organisation very much on the up is Worthing Sailing Club, which is celebrating after receiving a Sport England grant of £10,000.

This has been put towards a new fleet of six Laser Pico sailing dinghies, boosted by plans to rebuild its clubhouse within the next two years.

John Cooper, of the club, said: “I think it was great Ben Ainslie was the flag bearer at the Olympic closing ceremony and hope this will inspire people.

“Sailing is really good for children both for their health and also particularly help those who may not be the most academic gain in confidence.”

Meanwhile, Jim Gates, of Shoreham Sailing Club, revealed the club was in a stable condition, but faced its own challenges. These included encouraging more younger sailors and upgrading its boat storage facilities.

Responding to concerns over Olympic legacy, East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton is proposing a sports summit with clubs across organisations.

He said: “The Olympics was such a huge success and a confidence booster and it was great to see so many British team members make us proud.

“The trick is now to see just how we can bottle that energy in terms of getting people to doing more sport, whatever their background.

“I want to hold a sports summit with councils and sports clubs so that we can maximise the facilities that we have in our area.

“We do have some good facilities around here, but there are others that are down at heel.” Mr Loughton highlighted Brighton and Hove Albion’s plans to create a Lancing training ground, which is promising funds to improve other sports facilities in the area.