The head of the British Olympic Association warned today that the stunning successes of London 2012 could be squandered unless there was a “step-change” in government sports policy.
Lord Moynihan challenged ministers to increase funding for school sports and improved facilities to encourage youngsters to develop their talents.
He spoke out amid fears that sport could suffer after the Olympics in the continuing hunt for cuts in public spending.
Lord Moynihan, who won a silver medal for rowing in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, said it was essential the inspiration from a succession of British medal-winners was “translated into participation”.
He said: “That requires a step-change in sports policy. That requires everybody who works with those in power to focus on making sure we have a stronger sports in schools policy.”
Lord Moynihan, a former Sports Minister in the Thatcher government, also called for "better facilities, more access to facilities” to boost numbers of youngsters taking part.
“We then can help them develop their talents and ultimately see the best of them shining on the Olympic stage in the future," he said.
“We want all of them to be champions in their lives and that to us is a really important objective. If we can’t do something about it as a nation now, we never will.”
He said: “We are calling on the government today to use the momentum that has created so much inspiration in this country to create practical opportunities in schools, clubs, local communities for kids to get into sport and stay in sport.”
A government spokesman said: “We want a truly lasting legacy from these Olympics and a big part of that means more young people taking part in competitive sport.
“Schools are part of the answer – that is why we have set up the 2012 School Games competition.
“But more young people taking part in competitive sport can't be driven by top down Whitehall policies, as we have seen previously. It must be led by parents and communities creating a culture where competitive sports can thrive.”