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Mixed messages on Olympic legacy at Croydon sport clubs

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THE likes of Bradley Wiggins, Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis briefly made Britain do collective cartwheels when the London Olympics sparked into life one year ago tomorrow.

The Games were an unequivocal success that bathed the country in a positive light and, in Croydon, brought everyone together in support of our athletes and torchbearers.

But, in a term often repeated by British Olympic Association bigwigs, the sporting 'legacy' of the Games was imperative.

The hundreds of sports clubs in Croydon suggest the borough is already hugely enthusiastic about its sport.

Mike Fleet, coaching secretary of Croydon Harriers, testified to this, saying: "If anyone is in doubt about the Olympic legacy, they should come down to a Harriers meeting on a Tuesday night.

"There is barely a spot on the track and the interest is phenomenal. A lot of parents of younger children have told me their kids were inspired to come and have a go because of the Games."

Mr Fleet also said the Olympics has had a positive effect on athletes already at the club.

He added: "If you look at people like Elliot Safo, he's pushed on after the Games. He's near the big boys already and he's only 19."

Long jumper Safo claimed World Junior Championship gold last week and greater things beckon.

But in other sports where Team GB was not as successful, post-Olympic participation levels have not been quite as high.

Tony Hilton, secretary of Addiscombe Hockey Club and chairman of Coulsdon and Purley Badminton Club, said: "I don't think we've really had the bounce from the Olympics we expected.

"We haven't seen it at the hockey club and although there was a surge of membership at the badminton club, I think that is as much down to a slight economic upturn as anything else.

"At the Olympics, the hockey was one of the easiest things to get tickets to and although you could watch it on the red button, it didn't have the same media interest as the sports that took place in the big stadiums."

However, another sport that did not take place in a big stadium, Beach Volleyball, was a hit with the crowds at the games.

And Crystal Palace Beach Volleyball Club owes its entire existence to the games.

Abdo Chamali, a club volunteer, said: "We've had big groups of people here this summer, six days a week. The whole success of the club is down to the Olympics."

Mixed messages on Olympic legacy at Croydon sport clubs


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