20080819 england swim 71582984 18
Endurance swimmer Lewis Gordon Pugh swims in the Thames River past the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. - 


Stacey Vanek-Smith: But some Olympic investments are paying off. England is in third place for the number of Olympic golds behind China and the U.S. No, it's not the fish and chips effect. The U.K. made a major financial commitment to training athletes nearly 20 years ago, and now the dividends are paying off, as Stephen Beard explains.

Stephen Beard: In rowing, sailing and cycling, Britain has swept the board. And it's done pretty well at swimming. After decades of sporting mediocrity and downright failure, the Brits have finally hit their stride


There are many factors at work, not least talent and training. But money has also played a vital part. Since it was launched 14 years ago to fund good causes, the National Lottery has poured $7 billion into sports.

That investment is finally paying off, as the former Prime Minister John Major, who launched the lottery, told the BBC today:

John Major: Without the swimming pools, without the athletic tracks, without the facilities for young people, they're not going to be drawn into the sport. Money is the root of all progress. That's what the lottery's about.

Britain's winning streak, says Major, has given the whole country a boost. It now faces the more daunting task of hosting the next Olympics in 2012.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.