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The London Olympics, legacy and British coaching traditions.

Carpenter, T. L. and Day, Dave (2011) The London Olympics, legacy and British coaching traditions. [Conference or Workshop Item] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Leaving a ‘legacy’ has become a priority for major international sporting events like the Olympics and the World Cup. While there has been some recent work on sport, this has usually been dominated by hard legacy, relating to stadia and urban regeneration, rather than other ‘promised’ legacies for 2012 such as an increase in mass participation in sport, especially among young people. Using primary source materials, this paper will focus on one ‘soft’ – largely unintentional – legacy of past London Olympics, the coaching of elite British athletes. Through their attitudes to coaching, which have been moulded by their own backgrounds, coaches have transmitted values to athletes and shaped the way that sports have been played. Following the hosting of the London Games in both 1908 and 1948 it seems that there had been a great deal of satisfaction both with the efficiency of the Games organisation and about the preparation of the nation’s athletes which had resulted in Britain being placed first and twelfth respectively in the medals tables. However, poor performances at Stockholm in 1912, where the team dropped to third, and Helsinki in 1952, where Britain was eighteenth and won only one gold medal, suggest that any advances made in coaching and training prior to the home games had not been consolidated and that, far from creating a legacy in elite sports preparation, athletes and administrators had become complacent about their standing in international sport. As Britain prepares for the 2012 Games in London, coaching remains at the forefront of the drive for success but the lessons of the previous home Olympics need to be remembered if there is to be a genuine legacy left for the future and further developments made before 2016.

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