By Ray Fleming

THREE influential figures in British sport spoke yesterday about the lack of a national sports strategy and the need for a re-think of how sport is organised and funded in Britain, especially at school level. Lord Seb Coe, chairman of the London Olympics and Sir Keith Mills, his deputy, and Lord Moynihan, chairman of the British Olympic Association, all said more or less the same thing -- that government must use the spectacular success of the British participants in the London Olympics as the springboard for a “wholesale rethink of a national sports strategy”.

But, hang on a moment. What's wrong with the present organisation that has brought so many gold medals and put Britain in first place after the big two of China and the United States? Unco-ordinated it may be but somehow has produced remarkable results. Will Sir Keith Mills' call for “cross-departmental and cross-party involvement and cabinet-level responsibility” necessarily produce even better results than existing arrangements which often depend on local initiatives and enthusiasm? He says that much of the one billion pounds put into sport by national and local government is frittered away.

Isn't it just possible, though, that these gentlemen, who have done so much for sport in Britain, would be saying more or less the same thing if the UK had not yet won a single gold medal?