Schools should do more to promote sports and an active lifestyle, according to a four-time Ballarat Olympian.
Current selector with Athletics Australia, Steve Moneghetti told The Courier yesterday school curriculums had become “diluted” and more support was needed for teachers and staff.
Earlier this week, Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates made similar calls, arguing Great Britain’s success might be attributable to increased government spending in UK schools.
Responding to suggestions the Australian Olympic Team was under-performing compared to the British, Mr Coates said money could be a significant factor.
“The one thing London has done is to get sport back into school curricula,” he said.
“They’ve made that their legacy and we would encourage the Australian government to look at competitive sport in schools.
“We’ve been saying this for a long time but maybe we’re just not saying it loudly enough: we need to start in our schools.”
Mr Moneghetti echoed those calls yesterday, but said schools were in a tough position due to other pressures.
“Sport and physical education has been diluted in the curriculum, but that’s just the way it is,” he said.
“There’s a lot of things to put in the curriculum these days.
“It’s not just throwing money at it – it’s giving physical education teachers and schools the support they need to encourage kids to be more active.”
But it’s not just physical activity among kids that has caused concern, with attitudes about performance also called into question.
Following his silver medal performance in London, Australian long jumper Mitchell Watt lashed the media for using terms such as “failed” and “disappointing” when describing his second place.
“I think people need to start understanding that it’s not easy to win an Olympic gold medal and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a silver medal,” he said.
“The team’s happy, I’m happy, the head coach is happy ... the only people that aren’t happy are you guys (the media).
Mr Moneghetti said any medal was a phenomenal achievement.
“The medal tally isn’t even an official thing – it’s a media inspired idea,” he said. “While the media are saying ‘Oh no they’ve only got a silver’, the athlete might have been expected to come sixth, so it’s a great result.”
He said grass roots participation in sport was booming, but suggested that other parts of Australian lifestyle should be looked at.
“Isn’t it funny, a family will drive to Auskick, when they could ride their bikes and get even more exercise,” he said. “I think people are playing organised sport, but they’ve got other things in their lives that make them more sedentary, such as television and Playstations and those sorts of things.”