Privately educated more likely to be Olympians, says Steve Redgrave

2nd August 2016 at 16:34
sir steve redgrave
Five-time gold medal-winner believes opportunities greater in independent sector

Sir Steve Redgrave has said that pupils have a stronger chance of becoming Olympic champions if they go to private schools.

The rower and five-time Olympic gold medal-winner, 54, was educated at a state school in Buckinghamshire, where it was an English teacher who gave him a shot at the sport.

"Early on in my career, people were saying, 'You're capable of being an Olympic champion', so I took that mantle on,” he said. 

"Hopefully, I would have done whatever background I came from.

"But it's not always the case: the opportunity of playing different sports and the coaching abilities at private schools are, unfortunately, much greater than at the state schools."

'No Olympic legacy for the young'

His comments, in an interview with Radio Times, come amid concerns that the London 2012 Olympics failed to leave behind any kind of lasting sporting legacy among young people.

While the government has pledged to spend £150 million a year until 2020 to fund primary school PE and sport, there are still concerns that not enough money is making its way through to secondary schools.

Last year, Sir Keith Mills, chief executive of the London 2012 bid, warned that the government’s commitment to a co-ordinated strategy for a lasting sporting legacy had failed to transpire.

“We urged that government should have a national strategy for sport and inactivity; that hasn’t happened,” Sir Keith said.

“It’s very frustrating because it’s not rocket science. The problem in government generally is that it’s not very joined up. Government has historically been quite good at plans but not very good at executing them.” 

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