Friday, 23 February 2018

Is money the way to success in sport?

Yes! Old-fashioned is perfect!” chuckles Tom Tvedt, the president of Norway’s Olympic Committee, when asked whether the philosophy behind his country’s staggering Winter Games success may be, well, a little old-fashioned.
The Norwegians refuse to plough millions into sports that ordinary folk simply do not play in exchange for a brief medal-winning serotonin hit. They stress the importance of the umbilical link between grassroots and elite sport. And, unusually to British ears, they say local sports clubs are a core part of their success.
“Our vision is sport for all,” Tvedt says. “Before you are 12 you should have fun with sport. So we don’t focus on who the winner is before then. Instead we are very focused on getting children into our 11,000 local sports clubs. And we have 93% of children and young people regularly playing sport in these organisations.”
As Tvedt explains, this benefits everyone, because the more that people enjoy sport as kids, the broader the talent pool their elite teams will have later. “All our medals have come from athletes who have started in local clubs. If an athlete is good, we will then bring them to the Olympiatoppen, our elite sports centre, where the top sport science comes into the picture.”
To say it is working is a thundering understatement. With three days remaining of these Olympics, Norway, a country of 5.2 million people, has won 35 medals. Germany is next on 25, with Canada one further behind in third.