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The British are coming

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Mihir Bose | 10:59 UK time, Monday, 18 June 2007

London 2012 is making British sport realise that there are other goals besides putting on a good show and winning a lot of medals.

These remain prime objectives, of course, but another important target is for Britain to regain some of the prestige and power it used to exercise in international sports.

UK Sport has been running a year-long leadership programme for sports federations. This week they held a meeting in Sunningdale, normally reserved for ministers and top civil servants to gather and discuss strategy.

On Thursday night I was invited to speak to representatives of sporting federations ranging from athletics, rowing, netball, archery, handball, swimming, cycling, basketball, sailing and canoe polo.

The idea was to talk about international sports federations, how to increase effectiveness in multi-cultural environments, how British office holders are viewed by the international sporting community, and how stereotypes can be overcome.

The controversial London 2012 logoIn short: what can be done to make sure British sports federations have a presence in the corridors of power of international sport? Some time was also spent discussing how we in this country can wean ourselves away from our obsessive concern with football and highlight some of the minority sports.

The chat round the table was very interesting and showed that British sporting bodies are giving much thought to what has long been a real problem - the absence of British representation at the higher level of international sports federations.

So while the London Olympics are about winning medals on the field it is also about making sure that off the field, which can often shape what happens on it, the British are punching above their weight and not below as they have done for so long.

Come 2012, if UK Sport’s leadership programme works, do not be surprised if there are more British representatives in the higher reaches of international sports bodies.

That can only be good for British sport.

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