Scotland politics

Olympic silver medallist Liz McColgan says no Games legacy in poor areas

Former Scottish athlete Liz McColgan said there was little evidence of a London 2012 Olympic Games legacy in poorer areas in Scotland.

The Olympic silver medallist was speaking to MSPs who are examining the country's relationship with sport.

Ms McColgan argued that Scotland was in a "sad state of affairs" when it comes to great sportsmen and women.

Judy Murray, the mother of tennis Grand Slam winner Andy Murray, also spoke to the Health and Sport Committee.

The women were among of panel of people who are involved with sporting activities at all levels of abilities.

Dundee-based Ms McColgan said that after the excitement of the Olympics there needed to be follow-up at the grass roots.

She explained to the committee: "I was at the Olympic Games and we got all this great big emotion about the legacy of the games and how we were all going to go back to our little corners of the world and we have all these lovely children all well catered for in fantastic facilities and it has just not happened.

"My main grief is the fact that we have got all these facilities in deprived areas, yet we are charging £3 from local councils to try and get kids to use it and they haven't got that finance to use it.

"I went up to my local club after I got back from the Olympics and I had 120 kids and three coaches and no volunteers. We have still got 112 kids turning up on a Tuesday and Thursday night - fantastic sight to see at Caird Park Stadium. How are we supposed to cope with that and how are you to keep that interest?"

She added that what was needed was for coaches to go into schools and "create the buzz of the Olympics".

Dunblane-based tennis coach Ms Murray said facilities on their own was not enough.

She explained: "It has to be about people and we have to look at creating a workforce that can enthuse and inspire to get kids into sport and adults into sport, but it has to be able to retain them because it is one thing getting them excited about it now, but in order to retain them in the sport, it comes down to the pied piper's who come into the clubs or the schools or parks and enjoy what they are doing."

Image caption Judy Murray was in New York to see her son Andy win his first grand slam

Ahead of the committee meeting, its convener Duncan McNeil said MSPs wanted to know more about "Scotland's relationship with sport".

He added: "This inquiry couldn't have come at a more opportune moment - with the Olympics capturing public imagination and with momentum building in advance of the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

"This inquiry presents the committee with a unique opportunity to look again at Scotland's relationship with sport and to establish if barriers exist that prevent our communities engaging with sport at the grassroots level."

Ms Murray's 25-year-old son beat Serbia's Novak Djokovic in five sets at the US Open in New York.

Murray's triumph at Flushing Meadows followed his gold medal at the Olympics last month.

Tennis academy

In an interview with BBC Scotland last week, the sportsman said a new tennis academy would make a big difference to the sport north of the border.

He said: "One of the things that is missing is a focal point for tennis that a lot of the promising juniors can go to practise at and have the best coaching.

"They have it in London but that doesn't always work for everybody."

Scotland already has a national centre for tennis based at the University of Stirling.

The Gannochy National Tennis Centre, where Murray trained as a child, has six indoor courts and two outside clay courts.

He and his mother have already discussed the idea of a tennis academy with First Minister Alex Salmond when the trio met in Dunblane.

The committee took evidence from a number of interested parties, including;

  • Gavin McLeod, chief executive officer, Scottish Disability Sport
  • John Lee, policy officer, Volunteer Development Scotland
  • Alistair Gray, executive chairman, Winning Scotland Foundation
  • Liz McColgan, athletics coach
  • Alex Richardson, chief executive, Gladiator Programme
  • Judy Murray, British tennis coach and current captain of the British Fed Cup team
  • John Heraghty, Scotland manager, sported
  • Ceris Anderson, knowledge manager, StreetGames
  • Diane Cameron, social enterprise and sport co-ordinator, Senscot
  • Mark McGeachie, project officer, The Robertson Trust
  • Gordon Crawford, head of sport, Active Stirling
  • Jane Blanchard, chair, Lochaber Sports Association.

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