Coe warns Britain about "taking foot off pedal"
LONDON (Reuters) - The London Olympics have created a unique infrastructure for British sport to flourish on all levels but maximizing the impact in the future will demand political will and commitment, Games chief Sebastian Coe said on Thursday.
Coe, who led London's successful Olympic bid in 2005 and then took over the role of leading preparations, said the foundations had been laid but taking advantage of that legacy only had a short window of opportunity.
"Infrastructurally we are better than we have ever been. There is a sea change but you cannot take your foot off the pedal," Coe told a small group of reporters.
"I think the overwhelming emotion I hope we are all feeling is pride.
"I want to talk to my kids and grandkids in 30 years and say we did it right. We want people to feel proud about it."
The host nation have won 22 gold medals and 48 in total by the end of play on Wednesday, making this their most successful Games in more than a century.
The British capital is also left with a string of state-of-the art sports venues to create a new generation of Olympians.
Asked what role he would play after the Games in driving grassroots sports development in his country, Coe said: "That is not my responsibility now.
"It is a combination of political energy and work by the national sports bodies. It is a limited window."
He said that window was two or three years after the Games, during which period the enthusiasm generated could be successfully channeled to drive hundreds of thousands of children towards sport.
He said school sport should be "alive and kicking".
"There is more you could do in primary schools. It is a challenge sometimes to inspire 12-15 year-olds if they do not have the pattern of sporting interest."
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has spent much of the past two weeks cheering on Britain's Olympians, encouraged competitive sports in schools on Wednesday and criticized those who believe that "all must win prizes".
"There has to be a distinction about physical education and competitive sport," said Coe. "High quality physical education is not the same as competitive sport. We want to encourage young people to have a healthy lifestyle.
"You do not have to be an international athlete to be a bloody good PE teacher," added Coe, a double Olympic 1,500 meters athletics champion.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann)
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