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David Sparkes presented with an OBE

6th December 2011

British Swmiming Chief Executive David Sparkes was presented with an OBE today having overseen a transformation in the fortunes of aquatic sports.

The country's swimmers came back empty handed from the Sydney Olympics in 2000 but eight years later won six medals at the Beijing Games, including Rebecca Adlington's two golds.

Hopefully London 2012 will be another step in the process but we've not finished yet.

The official who took up his post in 1994 said after the ceremony: ``It's been a great team effort, we've had a very clear objective of what we wanted to do - we wanted to be a hell of a lot better than we were, and we all set out to do that and make a difference.

"Hopefully London (2012) will be another step in the process but we've not finished yet. My problem is that as I get older my passion gets greater.

"In the early days it was very much an amateur driven sport, very much run by amateurs - well meaning people.

"I think what we've been able to do is professionalise it, and I think the advent of Lottery funding has helped and latterly the support we've attracted from commercial partners because of our success - a chicken and egg (effect).''

Mr Sparkes described London's new Olympic pool as the best in the world and said that the country's top swimmers and their Paralympic colleagues were now probably the envy of the swimming world.

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