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Plea for funding to realise Olympic legacy
8:00am Thursday 30th August 2012 in News
THE rowing club that trained an Olympic gold medallist has made a plea for funding after an influx of new members, amid fears that the legacy of London 2012 will be lost because of a lack of money.
Tees Rowing Club has reported a surge of interest in the sport since golden girl Kat Copeland’s victory in the lightweight women’s double sculls.
However, the sudden increase in membership means it may now have to raise thousands of pounds to meet increased costs.
Sports clubs across the North are facing a similar post-Olympic boost and an urgent need for extra funds.
About 160 people have inquired about joining Tees Rowing Club since Miss Copeland’s victory, which could mean a rise of at least £3,000 a year in maintenance fees alone.
Durham Amateur Rowing Club is in a similar position, having been turned down for funding from British Rowing.
Miss Copeland is urging people to support her club as much as they can. The 21-year-old, who lives in Stokesley , North Yorkshire, said: “I cannot really over-emphasise how important Tees Rowing Club has been to me throughout my rowing career.
“The set-up at Tees is fantastic and there is a group of really talented young rowers who are starting to achieve really great things at national and international level.
“It is going to be important they get as much support as they can.”
Club president John Green said: “Each new member brings a little packet of money that will support that person, but that does not pay for replacement or maintenance of boats and equipment.
“The more the boats are on the water, the more likely they are to need repair and replacement.
“We need all of our boats to be in top condition, to be safe and to give people a good experience.”
The club, which relies largely on volunteer coaches, has about 40 boats. The cost of replacing one is between £6,000 and £30,000.
Mr Green, who wants to encourage as many people as possible to try rowing, said funding available locally before the Olympics had dried up, but said the club remained optimistic about receiving Olympic legacy funding and is also being supported by Stockton Borough Council, which is planning to pay for a new boat.
He said: “We would never turn anyone away, but we face a constant battle to get enough money to do what we need to do.
“If all of these people stay as permanent members, we will have doubled our numbers, which will put a strain on equipment and coaches. Obviously we will be looking for more support and would be delighted to hear from anyone who would like to support us.”
Olympic medalist Liz McColgan said she fears a generation of aspiring athletes will see no benefit from any legacy from the London Games.
The former long-distance runner, from Dundee, directed her concern to politicians during an event in the Scottish Parliament.
She said little has changed since she was young.
She said: “I still coach kids who are paying £3 to get into a track that has very bad lighting – I can’t see them in the winter. There is only one toilet. There’s no drinks available.
“The Government, the associations have let us down because we are not prepared to deal with all these kids that want to be the next Chris Hoy or Kat Grainger.”