What did the Olympics mean for Eastbourne?

Jessica Ennis-Hill (left), Mo Farah (centre) and Greg Rutherford (right) celebrate on 'Super Saturday'
Jessica Ennis-Hill (left), Mo Farah (centre) and Greg Rutherford (right) celebrate on 'Super Saturday'

A year ago, our home-grown sports stars took to the stage in a historic Olympics held on home soil - an event we are unlikely to witness again on these shores, at least in this life time.

The spectacular scenes of London 2012 will be forever etched in the memory. From the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron and Danny Boyle’s fantastic opening ceremony to Jessica Ennis-Hill, Mo Farah and Greg Rutherford bringing home gold on ‘Super Saturday’.

And lest we forget Bradley Wiggins perched on his throne, the first ever Olympic women’s boxing match, Chris Hoy becoming Britain’s greatest ever Olympian and the Queen starring in a film alongside James Bond!

These scenes would go onto inspire a generation. Or so were were told. Legacy formed a significant part of London’s Olympic bid. Promises of increased participation and wider access for all were made and the Olympics would provide a platform for our future hopefuls to go and emulate the class of 2012.

A year on, Herald Sport got the views of local sports figures. We spoke to Athletics coach Sue Keen, East Sussex’s only diving coach Tony Gaskell, Eastbourne Rowing Club’s Bob Noakes, Taekwondo coach Ken James and Boxing’s Dave Selby.

Eastbourne Rovers Athletics Club Sue Keen - Coaching Co-Ordinator:

“We’ve taken a on loads of new members, although, a large number haven’t stayed .We’ve also taken on new coaches but we do still have a waiting list which we’re doing our best to clear. Since the Olympics there has definitely been an influx of interest.

“There is still a big problem between the grass roots and top of the sport - sponsorship in athletics has almost completely dried up prior to the Olympics and it has had an effect.”

Diving Tony Gaskell - Coach:

“All of my new members come from word of mouth so I don’t think the Olympics has had much effect.

“It’s a struggle facilities-wise in Eastbourne. If I had the same facilities as Southampton or Crystal Palace I could produce great divers. I’ve been trying to access Crystal Palace but I keep hitting brick walls.

“It goes against the ethos of the Olympics, we’re told to get kids involved in sport but you can’t do it, it’s very elitist. I have potentially elite divers but how can they become elite if they can’t access facilities?”

Eastbourne Rowing Club

Bob Noakes - chairman:

“There has been a huge influx of young people in the sport. Straight after the Olympics we were inundated with people who wanted to try the sport, however, we only retained about three or four of them.

“Participation is good but it’s a very demanding sport if you want to win. It requires you to train twice a day and it’s difficult to arrange that around young peoples schedule.”

Willingdon Trees Boxing Club DaveSelby - President

“ I haven’t noticed an increase in participation at all really. Specifically not with under 16’s. I’d love to be able to say that we’ve been packed but we simply haven’t.

“I feel that the Olympics was great but it’s done and dusted now. As far as the legacy goes, alot of people have used their time and effort towards community initiatives but they’ve got nothing back.

“The government go on about the legacy and funding but you try and find it. It annoys me when you see David Cameron on the TV talking about legacy, where is the support?”

Ken James Taekwon-do Academy Ken James - Coach and owner:

“We haven’t had a great influx after the Olympics. I’ve been doing this for years but it’s not high profile. They’re just as good athletes but in this country it’s a minority sport. We didn’t see a penny from the Olympics, our athletes have always had to do things the hard way and nothings changed.”