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Stars warn over school sports cuts

Some of Britain's past, present and possibly future Olympic and Paralympic champions have pleaded with David Cameron not to end the £162 million grant which helps school children play sport.

World champion diver Tom Daley, 16, and Beijing Olympic champions including boxer James DeGale, canoeist Tim Brabants, cyclist Jamie Staff, rower Peter Reed and sailor Andrew Simpson - plus Sascha Kindred who won his seventh Paralympic swimming title in China - have signed a letter calling for a rethink.

The strongly-worded letter to the Prime Minister, backed so far by 79 top athletes with "more and more added each day", is the brainchild of Gail Emms, the badminton silver medallist from the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Her former mixed doubles partner and fellow 2004 Olympic silver medallist Nathan Robertson is another signatory.

Emms said she felt "compelled" to write and campaign amid concerns over the impact of the spending cuts.

Her mind was made up after speaking to top sportsmen who said they "too got really angry and annoyed that sport and its legacy are in jeopardy", Emms said.

The letter reads: "As past and present Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European athletes, we cannot stand by and watch as your Government threatens to destroy any hopes this country has of delivering a genuine London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic legacy.

"With less than two years until the Games, your plan to axe the £162 million funding for 450 school sport partnerships, which exist solely to provide sporting opportunities for millions of young people, needs to be reconsidered before it is too late.

"With one ill-conceived cut you are on the brink of destroying everything schools, clubs and the national governing bodies of sport are doing to ensure this and future generations embrace sport and physical activity, not shun it."

Wheelchair racer Shelly Woods, who won silver and bronze at the Beijing Paralympics, 2000 Olympic heptathlon gold medallist Denise Lewis, 1984 Olympic javelin champion Tessa Sanderson, plus former champion athletes Steve Cram, Jon Ridgeon and Brian Whittle, have also signed up.

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