Tag Archives: robertson

Matthew Stevens beats Neil Robertson in Kaikou Open semi-final

Stevens nicks final two frames to squeeze past Robertson into first final for five years

Steven Donaldson


14:08 GMT, 2 March 2013



14:08 GMT, 2 March 2013

Matthew Stevens reached his first ranking final in five years after winning the last two frames to secure a 6-5 win over Neil Robertson in the Haikou Open in China.

The Carmarthen 35-year-old finished with breaks of 60 and 51 respectively to overhaul his Australian opponent and book his place in his first final since the 2008 Bahrain Championship.

The match was not without controversy after referee Eirian Williams incorrectly replaced the balls following a Stevens foul in frame four, with Robertson winning the frame and levelling at 2-2.

Held his nerve: Matthew Stevens beat Neil Robertson in a final-frame shootout

Held his nerve: Matthew Stevens beat Neil Robertson in a final-frame shootout

Sports minister Hugh Robertson says racism bans need to be tougher

Football must get tough on racism, says sports minister Robertson



12:38 GMT, 23 December 2012

Sports minister Hugh Robertson has admitted the recurrence of racist incidents in English football is a concern and has called on the game to work harder to create opportunities for black managers.

Liverpool's Luis Suarez and Chelsea defender John Terry were both handed bans for racist abuse in the last 12 months.

'I think most of us would be worried by the recurrence of the issues around racism in football,' Robertson told Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme.

Too soft: John Terry's four game ban was not enough, according to Hugh Robertson MP

Too soft: John Terry's four game ban was not enough, according to Hugh Robertson MP

Asked if the Football Association, who suspended Terry for four games, should have been harder on the England captain, Robertson added: 'Yes, I think in retrospect the answer to that is yes.

'They are in a difficult position because they have to follow the law and there are legal challenges on all sides, but I don't think anybody looking back on this year would think it's been a particularly happy chapter.

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Ugly scenes: Danny Rose was racially abused while playing for England U21s in Serbia

Time to get tough: Sports minister Hugh Robertson says football must keep on top of racism issues

Time to get tough: Sports minister Hugh Robertson says football must keep on top of racism issues

'It's one of those things racism that you've really got to keep on top of it the whole time.

'I've seen quite a few black players who've asked to come and see me to talk through the problems. They very clearly feel there aren't enough black coaches, there aren't enough black managers, there's a glass ceiling on top them.

'That's why developments like St George's Park are going to be so important to bring through a new generation of black coaches and black managers to try and tackle this.

'Just look at the FA council, and ask yourself how many ex black players and how many women there are on that body, it's not a great advertisement.'

Mark Williams loses at UK Championship

Williams is latest big name to crash out of UK Championship after 'shocking' defeat

Wayne Gardiner, Press Association


22:52 GMT, 3 December 2012



22:52 GMT, 3 December 2012

The williamhill.com UK Championship has now lost four of the world's top 10 inside the opening round after a 'shocking' Mark Williams became the latest big name to make an early exit.

The two-time winner looked horribly out of sorts against the granite-like Mark King and duly lost 6-3, joining holder and world No 1 Judd Trump, the well-fancied Mark Allen and former champion Ding Junhui on the list of casualties.

But while the experienced King deserved his win and is no amateur – the experienced Essex cueman improved throughout, knocking in a polished sixth-frame 103 – World Snooker would probably have liked to avoid so many stellar names falling early on.

Heading home: Mark Williams crashed out in York

Heading home: Mark Williams crashed out in York

With Ronnie O'Sullivan taking an extended break from the game, there is a great need for the sport to show it can survive without its biggest draw and, although other stars remain – Neil Robertson was an impressive winner – there is no denying those to have perished are amongst those many expected to carry the baton in his absence.

'I was terrible. Shocking,' Williams, the fifth-best in the world, said.

'I felt all right going in but I couldn't pot three balls on the trot. The table was beautiful, there was a good crowd, everything you could want. It's getting boring for me to say how badly I am playing.'

Williams, who lifted the trophy in 2000 and 2003, jokingly suggested he may retire such is how he rates his form, before adding: 'I couldn't beat a man with no arms at the minute.'

For his part, King, who occupies the last spot in the top 32, was satisfied with his night's work.

'I played pretty solid and you take whatever you can get,” he said. “I made a 50-odd and made a century and I'm happy.'

Williams is one of the seven players to list the World, UK and Masters titles on his resume, something Australian left-hander Robertson hopes to be able to do come Sunday night.

In form: Neil Robertson kept his hopes alive with a resounding victory

In form: Neil Robertson kept his hopes alive with a resounding victory

He sent out a resounding warning of his intentions too, beating Tom Ford 6-1 and cracking in four centuries in the process.

His only slip came when he missed a routine red when on 45 and going for a whitewash, but he was more than happy to finish up with scores of 129, 112, 100 and 127.

'I felt mega-confident today,' Robertson said.

'Practice has been going very well and I've got a good record against Tom. When I have played him previously I think it's been 6-0 and 6-1 and I knew if I could get on top of him early on then it would be tough for him.'

While one Welsh former winner went home in the shape of Williams, another went through with Matthew Stevens, victorious in 2003, getting the better of fellow countryman Dominic Dale 6-1.

By his own admission Stevens has not been on song this year, but was given a leg-up by Dale's struggle with what he thinks may be an outbreak of shingles.

The 40-year-old was unable to see a doctor before his match started so played on, lost, and then headed off for a diagnosis.

'He doesn't look the best when he's well, but he looked awful!' said Stevens, who now plays Marco Fu.

'It was one of those unfortunate things. I felt for him as he didn't look well but it was nice to get the win.'

UEFA urged to take strongest possible action against Serbia

PFA chief calls for UEFA to take strong stance over Serbia racism claims as verdict looms



17:57 GMT, 21 November 2012

UEFA have been urged to take the 'strongest possible action' against Serbia at Thursday’s disciplinary hearing into racist chanting during the European Under-21 play-off against England.

The Serbian FA has been charged with alleged racist chanting by fans and both associations over the behaviour of players at the end of the game last month.

Professional Football Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said there would be huge disquiet if Serbia were only given a slap on the wrist if found guilty.

Ugly scenes: Serbia assistant coach Dejan Govedarica attempts to keep the opposing players apart during a scuffle after the Under 21 game against England

Ugly scenes: Serbia assistant coach Dejan Govedarica attempts to keep the opposing players apart during a scuffle after the Under 21 game against England

Taylor said: 'If the Serbian FA are found guilty then we would want UEFA to take the strongest possible action.

'Everybody was shocked by the racist chanting at that match and there needs to be a deterrent.

'We have had our own issues in dealing with incidents of racism of course, such as the length of time taken to deal with the John Terry case, but I don’t believe it is a case of people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

'I believe the FA have grasped the nettle and are trying to bring in improvements.'

Off you go: Serbian's Milos Ninkovic argues with Danny Rose after the England player was sent off

Off you go: Serbian's Milos Ninkovic argues with Danny Rose after the England player was sent off

The racism charge was discussed by FA chairman David Bernstein and sports minister Hugh Robertson at a meeting with UEFA president Michel Platini in Switzerland yesterday.

Bernstein told reporters: 'I think UEFA understand our position and that there is a degree of sympathy from Platini but I don’t want to say anything more than that.'

Anger: Marvin Sordell reacts after the U21 game

Anger: Marvin Sordell reacts after the U21 game

PFA chairman Clarke Carlisle has previously called for Serbia to be banned over the racism during the match in Krusevac on October 16.

Sunderland’s Danny Rose was sent off after the final whistle for kicking the ball away in reaction to the abuse he was receiving. He later claimed the abuse was racial. The Serbian FA later blamed Rose and accused him of 'inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar' behaviour.

Why can”t the R&A see sense on women members? – Derek Lawrenson

If Augusta can see sense on women members, why can't the R&A



22:59 GMT, 12 November 2012

Open season: R&A chief executive Peter Dawson will be under fire

Open season: R&A chief executive Peter Dawson will be under fire

Watching grown men defend the indefensible is never a comfortable experience and so it was with Billy Payne, Chairman of Augusta National, at the Masters this year.

One minute he was waxing lyrical about all the initiatives the club were doing to grow ‘the great game of golf.’ The next he was being skewered by a very reasonable question: ’If you’re that keen on growing the game, why haven’t you got any women or junior members’

Let’s say this about Mr Payne. Sure, he squirmed and shifted in his seat and tried to save face, like so many of his predecessors. But here’s the difference. He then went away and made sure he was never put in such a position again. A month later, the first two women members were invited to join the club and Billy Payne had put right the obvious hypocrisy.

Now we come to the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. They are already bracing themselves for unfavourable headlines next year. A men-only club taking The Open to another men-only establishment in Muirfield At least over the past week they’ve had a warm-up, as one former Minister of Sport in Colin Moynihan and then present incumbent Hugh Robertson laid into them over their anachronistic stance.

Breakthrough: Augusta National, home of the Masters, which was won by Bubba Watson in April, have now admitted women members

Breakthrough: Augusta National, the world-famous home of the Masters, which was won by Bubba Watson in April, have now admitted women members

Peter Dawson, the R&A’s chief executive, believes this subject to be simply a Press obsession, that most golfers couldn’t give two hoots, and he’s at least partly right. Most golfers couldn’t care less.

But it doesn’t make the R&A’s stance right. There’s no hiding from the fact it is embarrassing for the sport to have a governing body who don’t have any women members, and that will not change until the R&A do. It’s all well and good to allow juniors to attend The Open for free but what message are you sending out if you then take the event to clubs that don’t allow juniors to join

And so next summer, like so many before it, we’ll watch grown men defend the indefensible – and pray silently for the day when the R&A finally comes up with its own Billy Payne.

Another side to the glamour game

‘Rory McIlroy leads a galaxy of stars to Hong Kong’ proclaimed the main headline on the European Tour’s website on Monday. He also leads a cavalcade of dead men walking.

No disrespect to the leading players like Rory at either the Hong Kong Open or the South African Open being played at the same time on another continent this week, but these final full-field events of the regular season are all about the men at the other end of the table.

Men like the English trio, Tommy Fleetwood, Jamie Elson and Richard Bland, all within agonising touching distance of the top 115 who keep their cards for next year but in need of a good last week to seal the deal.

Last year in Hong Kong I sat in a courtesy car with two of the fallen, Nick Dougherty and Oliver Wilson, and the devastation they were feeling at missing out was plain.

No-one would seek to minimise the pressure that McIlroy so adeptly copes with as the world’s No 1. But that is surely a nice kind of pressure. Down among those worried about keeping their jobs, the pressure exerted by a game that is supposed to be all about relaxation must be hell.

Quote of the Week

’When Luke Donald won both money lists last year we thought “how good was that” Now Rory has done it and won a second major as well at the age of 23. The sky really is the limit.’

Eight-time Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie eloquently sums the feelings of a sport regarding the extraordinary Rory McIlroy.

Remarkable talent: Life just gets better and better for Rory McIlroy

Remarkable talent: Life just gets better and better for Rory McIlroy

Challenge Tour goes East

The Middle East has become such a vital part of the regular European Tour over the past two decades it is surprising that no event is staged in the region on the Challenge Tour.

That will all change next year when the Sultanate of Oman joins the party, with the National Bank of Oman Classic becoming the penultimate event, complete with a very respectable 200,000 prize fund.

One nice thing about the tournament is that there will be a reciprocal arrangement with five other Challenge Tour events during the season whereby promising Arab National players, both amateur and professional, will have the opportunity to gain some invaluable experience.

Beljan's Miracle moment

They say the traditional closing event on the US Tour might not take place next year, which would be a great shame. ‘Where Dreams Come True,’ declares the slogan outside the gates at Walt Disney World in Orlando, and so it has proved these past two years at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic.

Last year, Luke Donald complemented the fireworks seen at the Disney theme parks with some of his own, as he won the final event when nothing else would do if he were to clinch the US Tour money list.

Fairytale: Charlie Beljan won the Children's Miracle Network Classic

Fairytale: Charlie Beljan won the Children's Miracle Network Classic

This time it was 28-year-old American Charlie Beljan making the headlines. On Friday, he was rushed to hospital after suffering a panic attack on the course that left him fearing he might die. Two days later he was in heaven all right, as he claimed his maiden victory to end all thoughts of anxiety for at least the next two years.

‘You never know what’s going to happen in this game or this game of life,’ he said. ‘You just keep plugging away.’

Keep plugging way like this, Charlie, and you might even become that rarest of creatures. A famous Beljan.

Judd Trump beats Neil Robertson to claim International Championship crown

Trump beats Robertson to claim International Championship title



22:50 GMT, 4 November 2012

Judd Trump became the first winner of the International Championship, beating Neil Robertson 10-8 in the final in Chengdu.

The 22-year-old Bristolian became
world No 1 with his semi-final hammering of Peter Ebdon and on Sunday added
the 125,000 first prize.

Champion: England's Judd Trump

Champion: England's Judd Trump

A tight match seemed to have swung Robertson's way when he led 8-6 but his rival left-hander found another gear, breaks of 96 and 119 helping him turn the contest around.

The first four frames were split before Robertson returned from the first interval to open up a 4-2 lead, with breaks of 51 and 41 in frame four.

Trump took two contrasting frames to level – the first at one visit after a stunning opening red, the second a messy affair – but Robertson took the last of the afternoon session with a 50 break to lead 5-4.

The evening began with a re-rack and then a cagey start to frame 10, but Trump took it with a run of 57 to level the match once more.

He nudged ahead but Robertson responded with breaks of 68 and 88, and a 73 after the interval took the Australian 8-6 ahead.

Trump looked to be in trouble when he hammered the black off the table having gone 22 ahead in the vital 15th frame, but responded to close to within one.

And the world number one proved his mettle, going close to a century in the next and then making 119 to go ahead at the perfect time with just one frame needed for the title.

He opened up in the next with a swerve to pot a long red and then split the pack well, but could only make 39. Robertson failed to respond, though, and another superb opening red and pink set Trump on the way to victory.

It was Trump's third ranking title, having won the China Open and the UK Championship last year, while for Robertson it was only a second defeat in 12 ranking finals.

PM David Cameron says football has failed to deal with racism

Prime Minister calls for football to get tough on racism after recent failures



12:49 GMT, 2 November 2012

Prime Minister David Cameron says the football authorities have failed to put the necessary structures in place to tackle racism in the game.

Senior Government sources say that the Prime Minister will demand the FA and other authorities put in place tougher measures in place to deal better with the sort of incidents which have damaged the football’s reputation over the last 12 months.

Sports minister, Hugh Robertson, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘We expect the football authorities to come forward with a clear plan of action in the coming weeks on what more can be done to tackle racism in the game. Events over the last year have shown the need for action.'

Time to get tough: Prime Minister David Cameron wants football's authorities to act better on racism issues

Time to get tough: Prime Minister David Cameron wants football's authorities to act better on racism issues

Cameron lead a an anti-discrimination summit for leading football figures, including the FA chairman, David Bernstein, in February when he staked his personal reputation on the matter following the two high profile incidents involving involving Chelsea’s John Terry and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.

Cameron ordered an inquiry by the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, which announced its conclusions on the FA’s interim response last month.

Bad for the game: High profile racism cases such as the John Terry and Anton Ferdinand one have been bad for football's reputation

Bad for the game: High profile racism cases such as the John Terry and Anton Ferdinand one have been bad for football's reputation

The committee’s chairman, John Whittingdale MP, said then: ‘More needs to be done to increase the diversity of the pool of candidates for coaches and referees, to embed the values of equality and diversity at all levels of the game.

'While the general level of progress in combating racism and racist abuse in the UK is positive and should be applauded, there is much more that can and must be done, and we believe it is for the FA to take the lead and set the example for everyone, from football authorities at all levels to the grassroots groups, to follow.'

The FA has given a first response to the parliamentary inquiry but at the highest level of government there is an expectation for robust measures when they report back with final proposals in December.

Neil Robertson into second round of International snooker Championship

Robertson overcomes passport issues to make it into second round of inaugural International Championship



17:52 GMT, 28 October 2012

Neil Robertson advanced to the second round of the inaugural International Championship in Chengdu before revealing a passport mix-up almost cost him his place in the tournament.

Former world champion Robertson beat Welshman Ryan Day 6-3 in the evening session to set-up a potential meeting with Matthew Stevens in the next round.

But the Australian, who is currently living in England, had visa issues ahead of his trip to China and could have missed the chance to win the new 600,000 world ranking event.

Going through: Neil Robertson made it into the second round in in Chengdu

Going through: Neil Robertson made it into the second round in in Chengdu

'The past week has been a nightmare,” he told worldsnooker.com.

'I sent the passport recorded delivery to the DVLA's Peterborough office, but then they sent it by normal post to Swansea and then back to me. The Post Office was no help and I couldn't track it.

'The passport finally turned up at my house half an hour before I was due to leave to go to Heathrow to fly to Shanghai. So I just had to hope that when I arrived they would give me a visa.'

Robertson also praised the sport's governing body for supporting him during the mishap and thanked the staff who sorted the visa upon landing in China.

He said: 'Luckily World Snooker helped me a lot and I was able to provide all of the supporting documents to prove that I am a snooker player and I was going to the biggest tournament in China.

'As it turned out, the immigration staff in Shanghai all knew who I was and wanted pictures with me.

'I was there for about five hours, then I was given the visa and was able to fly to Chengdu. Obviously it was not ideal preparation so I'm just really pleased to have played well tonight and got the result.'

Shaun Murphy labelled the new tournament the “fourth major” on the snooker calendar.

The 30-year-old Englishman needed only 89 minutes to secure a spot in the second round, seeing off compatriot Andrew Higginson 6-0 with breaks of 67, 52, 86 and 96.

Murphy, who lifted the World Championship title in 2005, revealed he has been looking forward to what he considers an important new fixture in the sport.

'It's been a long time coming this tournament, and it's exciting to come to a city in the west of China where we've never been before,' he said.

'In terms of ranking points and prize money it's on a par with the UK Championship, so it can be seen as the fourth major.'

Jamie Burnett will face fellow Scot Stephen Maguire in the first round after beating Niu Zhuang 6-0 in their wild-card match.

Aditya Mehta of India also reached the first round proper after seeing off Zhu Yinghui 6-5.

He is joined in the final 32 by countryman Pankaj Advani after his wild-card opponent Zhou Yuelong pulled out of the tournament.

Fergal O'Brien set up a first round match against Judd Trump after a 6-3 success over Chen Feilong.

Three other wild-card matches were completed earlier in the day with 14-year-old Lu Haotian coming from 5-2 down to beat Michael White 6-5 in front of his home support.
White, who required treatment on an ankle he injured playing tennis yesterday, was forced to compete in just his socks to try and minimise the pain.

Lu will now progress directly into the second round after receiving a bye due to Ronnie O'Sullivan's decision to pull out of the tournament.

Veteran Ken Doherty also bowed out to youthful Chinese opposition, the Irishman losing 6-5 to 15-year-old Zhao Xintong.

The all-Chinese tie between Cao Yupeng and Wang Yuchen saw the former fight from 4-1 down to secure a 6-5 win and secure a meeting with John Higgins in the last 32.

Michel Platini brands Serbia scenes "disgraceful"

Platini brands Serbia scenes 'disgraceful' in letter to MP



17:37 GMT, 23 October 2012

Michel Platini has written to minister for sport Hugh Robertson to express his dismay at the 'disgraceful' scenes that followed England Under-21's win in Serbia last week.

Danny Rose appeared to be subjected to monkey chants during and after the 1-0 play-off win in Krusevac, which was followed by a mass brawl on the pitch between coaches and players from both sides.

UEFA have opened an investigation in to the chanting and European football's governing body have also charged the Football Association of Serbia (FSS) and the English Football Association (FA) for their players' conduct after the match.

Centre of attention: Rose was subjected to monkey chants in Serbia

Centre of attention: Rose was subjected to monkey chants in Serbia

The FA vehemently deny the FSS's claim there was no racist chanting at the match and Robertson was so appalled by the ugly scenes that he wrote to UEFA's president to ask him to come down hard on the Serbians.

The FA revealed that Platini has returned Robertson's letter admitting his shock at the events that unfolded in the Balkan state.

Disgrace: Platini has been urged to come down hard on the Serbians

Disgrace: Platini has been urged to come down hard on the Serbians

'Michel Platini has written back to Hugh Robertson (and said) in unequivocal terms that they were disgraceful scenes,' FA general secretary Alex Horne said.

'His immediate reaction was that they were disgraceful scenes that we shouldn't be seeing on a football pitch.'

Horne hit back at the Serbians for appearing to release a video on YouTube that it said proved 'there was no unsportsmanlike cheering and insulting of players on racial grounds.'

'It's not what I have seen on the video clips I have seen and it is not what I have heard from eyewitness reports of multiple people who were on the trip,' Horne said, speaking at an event to promote the FA's 150th anniversary next year at Wembley.

'I believe the guys and girls who were out there on the trip and that were hit by missiles.

'I wasn't there. I was watching on television. It was appalling. What the players went through out there is abhorrent.'

UEFA are under pressure to come down hard on Serbia after their perceived weak punishments of other associations and clubs. It is also not the first time Serbian supporters have been accused of racism.

They were fined 16,000 at the Under-21 European Championships in Holland after their supporters racially abused England's Nedum Onuoha. Horne, who warned last week that England may think twice about playing in the country again, has vowed to help UEFA in any way they can with the investigation.

'We have put our case forward,' Horne added. 'It was very uncomfortable for the people out there so we have written in strong terms to UEFA.

'We spoke to the match commissioner. He is supporting our view of events so it has all gone through UEFA channels.

'We are looking at a hearing on the 22nd or 23rd of November.

'We will support that commission with any evidence or support they need. We have to look at it seriously.'

London 2012 Olympics came under budget

Government confirm stunning Games cost 377m LESS than they budgeted for



12:50 GMT, 23 October 2012

The cost of the London 2012 Games has come in at 377million under budget, according to Government figures released on Tuesday.

The overall cost of the Games is forecast at 8,921billion from a budget of 9,298bn.

With some contracts still to be wound up after the end of the Games, ministers are describing the underspend as a 'prudent' estimate.

Olympic spirit: The Government have revealed the Games came in under budget

Olympic spirit: The Government have revealed the Games came in under budget

Sports minister Hugh Robertson described the feat of managing the complex programme within budget as 'a tremendous success'.

He said: 'The work of the construction and delivery teams, from the ODA (Olympic Delivery Authority) and Locog (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games), has set a very high standard and I have no doubt that London 2012 has set a new benchmark for the management of Olympic and Paralympic Games in future.'

Go figure: Hugh Robertson

Go figure: Hugh Robertson

Talks are also still ongoing between the London 2012 organisers and G4S to get the security firm to pay back money for the fiasco over its failure to provide enough security guards for the Games.

Robertson said: 'There are projected savings of at least 377m so the predictions that I made this summer that we could bring this project in at under 9bn has almost certainly been met.

'The 377m figure is conservative because there are lumps of contingency that are still attached to the outstanding work. The central expectation has to be in line with the rest of the project that not all of that will be needed.

'Locog (the London 2012 organisers) also have to conclude, and we have to sign off, the negotiations with G4S over the size of the amount of money that will be paid back to the public purse – so if you were to add to that 377m, anything that will not be used but is held against outstanding work and anything that might come back from G4S, it is entirely reasonable to expect that figure to rise.'

Some 103 million of contingency is being held to cover the remaining risks in the programme. These include the retrofit of the Olympic Village to get it ready for use when it reopens after the Games.

There are also around 2,000 contracts with the ODA, the Olympic builders and London 2012 which still have to be closed out.

In addition, 480m of uncommitted contingency still remains within the budget.

ODA's construction and transport programme has come in at 6.714bn,
according to the estimates. This is a drop of 47m on the previous
estimated figure.

savings made by the ODA are now at 1.032bn. Overall savings have been
made through 'really tough project management' by London 2012, ODA and
the Government, according to Robertson.

Lord Coe, meanwhile, made a direct pitch to coalition ministers today for help shoring up the UK's Olympic legacy.

The peer, who is expected to be
confirmed as the new chairman of the British Olympic Association next
month, attended Cabinet at No 10 to make sure ministers are 'engaged in
the way they need to be'.

Golden Mo-ments: The Games gave the while nation a massive lift this summer

Golden Mo-ments: The Games gave the while nation a massive lift this summer

Prime Minister David Cameron made the former Tory MP a 'legacy ambassador' to boost UK sport in the wake of the successful Olympic and Paralympics.

Education Secretary Michael Gove told the peer the London 2012 bounce has already led to an increase in the number of students applying to be PE teachers.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said it was 'always part of the planning' that the Games would be used to improve participation in sport and change attitudes to disability.

He said: 'Lord Coe said the legacy challenge was, in many ways, the biggest challenge of the Games project. He said he was delighted the Government had picked up this issue so quickly. A lot has already happened but we need to continue to work at it to make sure there is an effective legacy.

'It was an opportunity for him to hear the thoughts of the Cabinet.

'Clearly, this is an issue that cuts across many departments and already lots of departments are working on aspects. One issue is participation in sport.'

Lord Coe will report progress to the Prime Minister four times a year.