• Bunce on Olympics

Come on Dave, listen to Sir Chris

Steve Bunce August 9, 2012
David Cameron found a friend in Amir Khan © PA Photos

I saw David Cameron at the boxing event the other day sitting next to Amir Khan and I must say that the old Etonian looked very relaxed.

Medal Table

It was about 24-hours later that he got a proper ear-bashing from Britain's greatest ever Olympian, Chris Hoy. Funding, we should all remember, for elite sports is due to be cut next year.

Now, call me stupid, but if the world's best cyclist and most decorated Olympian gives you advice you listen. There can be no panels of experts, no Whitehall mandarins with outreach research groups or fat consultants reporting back to Dave that cutting funding is the way forward. Listen to Hoy and dozens of others. Surely, it's that simple?

On what parallel universe do you win a record total of medals, build venues to make the world envious, create heroes that make everybody cry and then slash funding? Is that a comedy routine?

Dave has pointed the finger over Hoy's head and blamed teachers for not wanting to spend enough time nurturing tomorrow's sporting stars. Thanks for that, Dave. Should we also ask the nurses to do an extra shift for free down at the local track?

Hoy and hundreds of elite and non-elite athletes remember what it was like without the proper money and facilities. Put simply, as Hoy always does, it was 'difficult to be successful'. It's hard to train 50 hours each week when you are flipping chicken in Nandos and that was, trust me, the reality for all GB athletes on bikes, horses, boats and feet until about 15 years ago.

Other men and women inside the real world of sport now insist that the funding has put GB in front of the world in many sports. Also, we are doing it clean and that feels good.

Team GB is not the first sporting nation to be a few years in front of the field. The East German competitors back in the Seventies and early Eighties had the same lead. However, they had a special programme of doping and in 1993 I went to look at a sporting facility just 50 miles from Berlin. The Iron Curtain/Berlin wall was down but regime's topple slower and the facility was disturbing. The medical clinics were attached to each block for each individual sport. The buildings had been ransacked by about 5,000 party-mad people, who were sleeping on trampolines, in boxing rings and under table tennis tables. The drugs, not surprisingly, were gone but the legacy they helped create will never fade.

I hope that Britain's legacy from the games does not suffer from somebody somewhere convincing Dave Cameron that cutting funding is the way forward.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Steve Bunce Close
Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.