Inside Lines: Lord Coe on 10-year mission to deliver Olympic legacy


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The Independent Online

Seb Coe insists he is not pulling anyone's legacy over what the Olympics have bequeathed to the nation. Faced with allegations that the personal promises made when winning the bid remain unfilled, the lord of London's Olympic rings reminds us it will take at least 10 years for all the benefits be to reaped.

Talking exclusively to The Independent on Sunday, Coe admits that "there is not a lot of goodwill out there" in the present climate. But he vows that Olympic legacy will come good as part of what he calls his 10-year mission. "There is no way that Olympic legacy has been kicked into touch. Absolutely not."

It has begun, he says, where he always believed it should – in schools. In his capacity as legacy adviser to the Prime Minister, he has been instrumental in pushing through the new £150 million-a-year funding for primary-school sport. Coe claims that David Cameron "bumped heads together" across Government departments to extract "a sensible sum of money" for the project.

"The focus on primary schools was one thing we needed to get right," he says. "This is not about delivering elite-level sportsmen and women but giving kids quality access to sport in primary schools, where it is most needed. As I said, we are in the first stages of that legacy. This hasn't been a quick stab on the accelerator after the Games. I've always seen this as a 10-year journey."

So we must wait and see.

Charr to Haye's taste

Having put Hollywood on hold, David Haye will be a reinvigorating presence on the heavyweight boxing scene. So far no TV deal has been done for his return on 29 June, and won't be until a credible opponent is named.

No one needs reminding that the last time Haye fought in Manchester Audley Harrison was in the opposite corner, though not for long. Trainer Adam Booth says they have a fistful of candidates, and top of the hit list is believed to be the lippy Lebanese-born German Manuel Charr, whose only defeat in 24 fights was in Moscow last September on a cut-eye stoppage against Vitali Klitschko. Booth took the unusual step for publicity-hungry boxing of banning a national newspaper scribe from last week's press conference over something he had written.

Who does Booth think he is, Sir Alex Ferguson?

Dyke can be a devil

"Sports administration is not something I know enough about. I'm a sports nut but that doesn't mean to say I would be any good at running it. You also have to look at where the power in sport is, and I'm not sure it is with the administrators. Who has the power at the Football Association. Not those in charge of it." Who said that? One Greg Dyke back in 2004 when I interviewed him for this newspaper, and now soon to become the man in charge of that same FA.

The former BBC director general began working life as cub reporter covering sport for his local paper in Middlesex. The late Reg Gutteridge, former boxing correspondent of the old London Evening News, regularly received calls from "Dyke of Uxbridge". "I used to kick his arse," Gutteridge liked to recall whimsically.

Dyke, 65, has since done a fair bit of arse-kicking himself and doubtless is about to do more. The blazerati had best beware.

Fantasy island

Hawaii is contemplating bidding for the 2024 Olympics, a prospect likely to appeal to those sporting sybarites on the International Olympic Committee. We are reminded of when Manchester tried for the Games and its bid leader, Sir Bob Scott, accused the British media of being unsupportive, alleging they would prefer a more exotic location. His argument would have been more impressive had he not been stepping off a plane from an IOC meeting in Acapulco at the time.