Try as they might, Lord Coe and his team are struggling like mad to present a convincing case for a genuine Olympic legacy from London 2012. Matters were made worse when one of their own, a one Sir Steve Redgrave, broke ranks and offered a stinging attack on the government’s short-termism. Redgrave does not mince his words.  As reported in The Observer by Anushka Asthana 27/12/09, Redgrave explains, ‘Everything seems to be very short-term at the moment- there has been little talk about what is going to happen after the Olympics. The success of these games will not even be what happens in 2013, but what happens in 2020 and beyond.’ Redgrave has been recruited by the Government to advise on how to get more people actually getting off their backsides and burning off some calories but the question is; is the Government listening to him? Our record breaking, knighted Olympian ought to be listened to because he is trying to zoom in directly to what he sees as the heart of the problem (no pun intended). ‘We (Britain) are very much on the brink- if you look across to America, obesity rates are sky high. In some parts of the US if you can’t drive somewhere, you don’t go.  There are scary statistics that suggest our children might die at a younger age than we will- that life expectancy will start to fall.’ In the face of these blatant criticisms, the Government responds with its usual rhetoric about how much extra investment they are pumping into school sports. But these statistics of increased spending and higher targets obscure more than they reveal.  As a community coach I work in a range of schools that stretch from the rather affluent to the very impoverished, and it doesn’t take a five year university study to notice that the more impoverished the neighbourhood the poorer the dietary habits become. This is not to say that rich kids can’t become fat because they can and the sedentary lifestyle cuts across all classes, but street reality tells us loud and clear that obesity blights the poorer suburbs to a far greater degree than that of the leafy green shires, and the screamingly obvious conclusion is that class and poverty have got everything to do with the obesity time bomb that is ticking away.  Class is the elephant in the room that the likes of Lord Coe and Sir Steve Redgrave prefer not to mention. It’s as if we are too embarrassed to say that working class families in Britain have crap diets. Too much stodge and not enough fruit and veg! Jamie Oliver came straight out with it a few months back and, if I recall correctly, got a good deal of abuse for his efforts.  Nevertheless, poor housing, low incomes, poor diets, low expectations at school and beyond and a coach potato existence: they are all linked and cannot be effectively dealt with in isolation. Whilst we talk of an Olympic Legacy in purely aspirational terms, no matter how well intended, and ignore the class based nature of the problem, the legacy will likely remain just that; an aspiration. It’s high time the word ‘class’ returned to the British political lexicon. End JPK 27/12/09

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