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Australia's Olympic chief calls for school sport improvements

By Pete Hayman    08 Aug 2012

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates has called for "greater emphasis" on school sport amid a disappointing performance at the London 2012 Olympics.

In an interview with ABC radio, Coates pointed towards how the UK was looking to enhance its school sport provision in order to leave a lasting legacy from hosting the Games.

Coates told the broadcaster: "The British are making a big thing about that being one of the legacies they're looking towards.

"They've been achieving that, not across the board, but there has been a greater emphasis on sport in schools and we need that because we've got to make sure we've got a talent pool."

Coates' call was welcomed by the Australian Sporting Goods Association executive director, Shannon Walker, who believes London 2012 may be a "watershed" for Australian sport.

"We have an opportunity now to reflect on how we fund sports in this country and I agree with Mr Coates that we need to make improvements in our school sports programmes," said Walker.

However, federal sports minister Kate Lundy told ABC News Breakfast: "I know a great case has been made for sport and for active sport in that national curriculum, so we'll see how that plays out.

"This discussion is an important one to have post-Olympics, post any major international event, we need to reassess, we need to take stock of our high performance programme."

• Meanwhile, Lundy has welcomed the announcement from Swimming Australia that an independent review will be carried out into its high performance programme and administration.

Coach Bill Sweetenham and former Olympic gold medallist Susie O'Neill will guide the review, which comes after the national governing body received AU$37.9m (US$40m, EUR32.3m, £25.7m) in the four years leading up to London 2012.

Swimming has, to date, delivered 10 out of Australia's 25 medals at the Olympic Games - including one gold, six silver and three bronze.

Click here for federal sports minister Kate Lundy's interview with ABC News Breakfast and click here for another interview with ABC Radio.

Click here for The Australian's report on John Coates' comments and click here for the Australian Sporting Goods Association's statement.

Click here for a statement from Swimming Australia president David Urquhart.

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