Catford Balfour Beatty London Youth Games chairman bows out after 30 years

Anthony Kendall with Boris Johnson and Christine Ohuruogu

Anthony Kendall with Boris Johnson and Christine Ohuruogu

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The Catford chairman of Europe’s largest annual youth sports event is bowing out after 30 years at the ‘forefront’ of the organisation.

Anthony Kendall, 70, has helped lead the Balfour Beatty London Youth Games since its inception in 1977.

He said: "I’ll miss it enormously. But I’m confident that it is in a really strong place for the future. The last six years have been fantastic - which I would put down to a range of things - where sport is politically, the winning of the Olympics and changes in funding for sport.

Waving goodbye to the "special" event, Mr Kendall said he welcomes someone new coming on board with "new ideas and fresh energy", but admitted: "I feel a little jealous for what they will be taking on."

The games have attracted the faces of some huge stars including Christine Ohuruogu, Mo Farah and David Weir, for them the London Youth Games were "like their ‘first Olympics’."

And while the London Youth Games continues to grow, celebrating its largest ever event in 2013, it hasn’t always had a smooth ride.

During the 1980s and 1990s the games struggled to find the long-term support and sponsorship it needed. Mr Kendall said: "One year we were only about three months out from the regatta and we had to cancel it because we hadn’t got the resources to put it on."

In the end, Mr Kendall puts the success of the London Youth Games down to the civic pride it generates.

He said: "It’s almost the only time you’ll see someone cheering for their borough and wearing a borough t-shirt." 

As for his own future involvement, the committed Arsenal fan dismissed suggestions he might now adopt a Sir Alex Ferguson-type role looking on from the stands.

He laughed: "You can stop the analogy there, because London Youth Games is going to go on from success to success. Unlike at Manchester United, where they have had some difficulties."

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