I have just had handed to me an old newspaper cutting from 1977 in which a family raised money for my Olympic bid. This was given to me by Jeanette who is featured in the article, she found this when sadly her mother died she is also in the article.. This obviously brought back memories 2 weeks after this report I won the British o 95 kg trials and become NO1 GB Heavyweight.
This was given to me the same day as Mo Farah announced he would be paid thousands of pounds to make a guest appearance at the London Marathon. Things have certainly changed since 1980 Olympics. My attempt to make the Olympics like many others was not just about training but also about personal and family sacrifice, in my case I received £20 from Sports Aid Foundation plus people and myself would organise sponsored events to raise money for me. Waldesrslade School in Chatham raised a considerable amount for me. In those days you still had to be an amateur and we in GB took that very serious, which nearly saw me dropped for the National Team. Some of you know of my disagreements with the hierarchy of the British Judo Association at the time, because I came from another organisation which they considered inferior they were far from happy with me being selected for the National Squad. When I won the National Trials just 8 months after joining them, this made them extremely angry (not all I might add many still recognised me as Judoka). So the question was put Is Martin Clarke an amateur as he coaches Judo for a living? The answer was Yes. So one up for me but these people would get their revenge eventually, as I never got selected for the 1980 Olympics.
The point I am trying to make in those days the Olympics was a gathering of Amateur Athletes from all over the World to have a festival of sport, with the ideal of competing and maybe winning the ultimate Sporting Accolade no more no less. Of course there would some who did not take the Amateur ideal in the true manner of equality and not for gain. The Communist would have their athletes in the Army and the USA would have theirs in colleges etc.
As the Olympics moved on it became a political weapon for those countries who thought that there system of government was superior to others if they won many Olympic medals and of course eventually the Amateur status was dropped and now the professional could enter and the hardworking amateur would no longer get a chance. Now you have Olympians becoming Millionaires because of their medal wins and why not, yet in 1980 I cannot remember Steve Ovett or Seb Coe becoming rich over night and certainly no Judo player was ever made rich from the Olympics ask Neil Adams. Now we have sportsman who have been to 4 Olympics and some complain they are hard done by well who paid for them for the last 18 years? Of course us the Tax payer, so should we the Taxpayer be paying for Professional Sports people to train and make a living from us? One diver complained that he had lost his funding and could no longer keep up his 2 mortgages?
The I.O.C is just a corporate body whose job is to provide a Sporting Spectacular every 4 years and the athletes are there to entertain and amaze the World Wide audience. The original Olympic ideal has now gone I am pleased that I was one of those who tried to make the Olympics when it was for amateurs.
Many people thought that GB would not make a success of the London Olympics I had no doubt that it would, even though I did not want it in GB because of the cost. The British have had a brilliant record throughout the world in putting on such events and pageantry , yes our Sports people were excellent the opening and closing ceremony were fantastic even though it gave a rather cock eyed and inaccurate version of what Britain’s past has been. So who gained out the London Olympics?
1) All those companies who built the place,
2) All those foreign workers who worked on the project
3) Adverting companies
4) The Government who had gained by the massive PR for them
5) All those who were paid to organise the event
6) All those athletes who participated and now some will earn a living from it
7) All those dignitaries who got free passes to watch some from countries where there people are starving
Guess who paid for this of course us the Tax Payer
I have already said that the ordinary sportsman has gained nothing from the London Olympics, there was no sudden surge in people taking up sport, and maybe many would become spectators of TV sport. In fact the government now will only grant aid sports that were successful in the Olympics so now some Olympic Sports will collapse and what of the Non Olympic sports? Remember there are more Non Olympic sports then those in the Games and they will get no funding. Surely if the government should put taxpayers money into sports it should be pumped into grass level to encourage people to enter many different sporting activities at all ages and abilities? Why should just an elite few get all the money surely the emphasis should be on maximum participation rather then the maximum amount of Olympic medals for if the London Olympics has proved one thing the latter doesn’t produce more sports men and women