THE legacy of the 2012 Olympics has been portrayed in very tangible terms this week.
I am not on about the BBC’s self-congratulatory bean feast at SPOTY, but the new figures released by Sport England when it comes to backing the grassroots over the next four years.
Their message, to put it simply, appears to be ‘use it or lose it’ when it comes to funding.
While you might have thought Sport England was all about being a helping hand for struggling sports, the figures projected for the sharing out of a £493.4m pot to 46 sports suggests that those who show they spend wisely will duly prosper.
And London 2012 certainly seems to hold the key.
Success at the Olympics on the road and in the velodrome is set to see cycling rise to the top of the funding list, while one of the big losers will be swimming.
It goes to show how much of a difference four years can make.
Both sports had reasons to be cheerful after Beijing in 2008 with great performances and hauls of medals, but while the cyclists have pushed on the swimmers appear to be treading water – and after the paltry medal return in London, possibly even drowning.
However, for Sport England it is not the number of medals that really matters – it is the levels of grassroots participation.
While thousands of youngsters are now getting on their bikes in the name of sport – rather than looking for work as Mr Tebbitt suggested – it would appear fewer are now keen on wrapping their swimwear in a towel and heading for the local pool.
As they say, you can lead a young athlete to water but you can’t make them swim.
But, seriously, those involved in aquatics must be wondering where they have gone wrong.
One of the instant reactions to Team GB’s failures in the pool this summer was for the powers that be in swimming to suggest too much time had been handed over by swimmers to promoting the Games.
While it might have been a possible distraction, the evidence would suggest that to be an erroneous assumption as cyclist Victoria Pendleton and track athlete Jessica Ennis actually seemed to thrive on being pin-up girls ahead of the Olympics.
Rebecca Adlington is willing to offer her thoughts and, given she was one of the few to maintain any kind of form over the four-year divide, she will be well worth listening to.
But here we reach the Catch 22 scenario.
If Sport England cuts money from swimming because of lack of participation, then we end up with fewer top swimmers and poorer performances in championships, which leads to even less public interest and participation, leading to further cuts in funding.
Unlike tennis, also one of Sport England’s targets when it comes to cuts (due to falling grassroots participation), there is no big earner like Wimbledon to help filter money down – so it would seem that Adlington and Co are facing an all too real sink or swim situation.