Government funding for Olympic sports in the UK has been guaranteed for the next four years – but experts have warned that without investing in school sports, Britain could fail to capitalise on the legacy of London 2012.

Experts have welcomed the announcement that UK Sport will receive £125 million annually for the next four years to maintain funding at same level as the run-up to London, until the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

But Professor Ian Henry, director of the Centre for Olympic Studies and Research at Loughborough University said school sport remained a “significant problem".

He told The Huffington Post UK the funding was a definite positive as far as the coalition is concerned.

He said: "It's one of the few good news stories from the government’s point of view.

“You can look at it either cynically saying it is currying favour to a certain degree or you can look at it positively saying the government has recognised the importance of national morale, in that the Olympics to date and the Paralympics to come, hopefully, have had a significant impact on the people’s view of their country.

"It’s either bread and circuses or a shop window for Britain realising its potential.”

But Professor Henry warned that school sport remains “a significant problem”, saying that, without a two-hour per week target for sport in schools, the next generation of elite athletes may not develop.

He added: “The pulling of the plug on school sports partnerships means that kind of advance, that kind of increase in participation is now threatened.”

sir chris hoy

Sir Chris Hoy has welcomed the announcement

The prime minister has come under fire for ditching a requirement on schools to offer pupils at least two hours a week of sport. Critics have called for the target to be reinstated as Britain achieves record success at the London Olympics.

David Cameron said in a statement confirming the funding that he wanted to help shore up the legacy of 2012.

He said: "The motto of these Games has been 'inspire a generation'. Nothing has been more inspirational than seeing our elite athletes win gold this summer.

"There's a direct link between elite success and participation in sport. I want one of the legacies of these Games to be our athletes triumphing in Rio in 2016, and in future Olympic Games. Guaranteeing this funding will help ensure that happens."

But shadow Olympics secretary Tessa Jowell, while welcoming the funding, again called for a 10-year national plan for school sport.

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"We need to get everyone working together to get this right - the country will never forgive us if we let this opportunity slip through our fingers,” she said in a statement.

The news comes after a week of wrangling over school sports funding, with Cameron controversially suggesting the lack of competitive spirit in school sports is not down to a lack of money, but teachers who don't want to join in and play their part.

The row over ditching school sports targets intensified after Mayor of London Boris Johnson suggested kids should be doing two hours of PE not just every week, but every day, and a ComRes poll for Sunday newspaper The People finding nearly three in four want the government to increase cash for sport in schools.

The extra cash for elite sport was welcomed by six-times gold medal winner Sir Chris Hoy who said: “Having these guarantees for the future will be a huge boost for all the athletes aiming to win medals at Rio 2016 and proves we are serious about building a strong legacy from London 2012."

UK Sport chair Baroness Sue Campbell said: "What has been achieved in London is momentous. We have put the UK on the map as a high performance nation with the talent to compete with the best nations of the world. What was once unthinkable has been achieved resoundingly. The Government's announcement to maintain funding in our high performance system demonstrates vision and commitment to sustain this level of high performance beyond London onto Rio and beyond - a true legacy of the Games."

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  • GOLD - Super Heavy Weight

    Great Britain's Anthony Joshua celebrates with his Gold medal following his Super Heavy Weight Final against Italy's Roberto Cammarelle on day sixteen of the Olympic Games at the ExCeL, London. (Photo credit: PA)

  • GOLD - Men's 5000m Gold medalist Mohamed Farah of Great Britain poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men's 5000m on Day 15 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 11, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

  • GOLD - Men's Boxing Bantam 56kg Great Britain's Luke Campbell with his Men's Boxing Bantam 56kg gold medal at the ExCeL Centre, London, on day 15 of the London 2012 Olympics. Picture date: Saturday August 11, 2012. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

  • GOLD - Men's Kayak Single 200m Canoe Sprint Great Britain's Ed McKeever displays the gold medal he won in the men's kayak single 200m in Eton Dorney, near Windsor, England, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • GOLD - Women's Taekwondo 57kg bout Great Britain's Jade Jones with her gold medal for winning the final of Women's Taekwondo -57kg bout in the Excel Arena, London. Picture date: Tuesday July 24, 2012. (Julien Behal/PA Wire

  • GOLD - Women's Fly 55kg

    Great Britain's Nicola Adams with her gold medal after her fight with China's Canacan Ren during the Women's fly 55kg fight in he South Arena 2 in the Excel Arena, London. (Photo credit: PA)

  • GOLD - Equestrian Dressage Individual Grand Prix Freestyle

    Great Britain's Charlotte Dujardin celebrates after winning gold in the Equestrian Dressage Individual Grand Prix Freestyle at Greenwich Park during day 13 of the London 2012 Olympics, London. (Photo credit: PA)

  • GOLD - Women's Omnium

    Great Britain's Laura Trott celebrates winning Gold in the Women's Omnium on day Eleven of the Olympic Games at the Velodrome in London. (Photo credit: PA)

  • GOLD - Men's Keirin

    Great Britain's Chris Hoy celebrates winning the Men's Keirin final on day eleven of the Olympic Games at the Velodrome, Olympic Park, London. (Photo credit: PA)

  • GOLD - Dressage

    Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester and Laura Bechtolsheimer (L-R) of Great Britain celebrate with their gold medals after the medal cerermony for the London 2012 olympic dressage competition at Greenwich Park in London, Britain, 07 August 2012. (Photo credit: PA)

  • GOLD - Men's Triathlon

    Gold medallist Britain's Alistair Brownlee celebrates on the podium of the men's triathlon event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 7, 2012 in London. (Photo credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GettyImages)

  • GOLD - Cycling, Men's Sprint

    Great Britain's Jason Kenny celebrates winning the gold medal after winning the Men's Sprint Final Race 2 against France's Gregory Bauge at the Velodrome in the Olympic Park, on the tenth day of the London 2012 Olympics. (Photo credit: PA)

  • GOLD - Equestrian Team Jumping

    Great Britain's (from left to right) Peter Charles, Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Nick Skelton celebrate with their Gold medals at a press conference after the Equestrian Team Jumping, during day ten of the London 2012 Olympics. (Photo credit: PA)

  • GOLD - Men's Singles Tennis Tournament

    Great Britain's Andy Murray poses with his gold medal at the end of the men's singles tennis tournament of the London 2012 Olympic Games, at the All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on August 5, 2012. (Photo credit: LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/GettyImages)

  • GOLD - Finn Sailing Class

    Britain's Ben Ainslie acknowledges the applause on the podium after receiving the gold medal in the Finn sailing class at the London 2012 Olympic Games, in Weymouth on August 5, 2012. (Photo credit: WILLIAM WEST/AFP/GettyImages)

  • GOLD - Heptathlon

    Great Britain's Jessica Ennis celebrates with her Gold Medal after winning the Heptathlon at the Olympic Stadium, London, on the eighth day of the London 2012 Olympics. (Photo credit: PA)

  • GOLD - Men's 10,000m

    Mohamed Farah of Great Britain celebrates winning gold in Men's 10,000m Final on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 4, 2012 in London, England. (Photo credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

  • GOLD - Men's Long Jump

    Greg Rutherford of Great Britain celebrates winning gold in the Men's Long Jump Final on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 4, 2012 in London, England. (Photo credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

  • GOLD - Women's Team Pursuit Track Cycling

    (L-R) Dani King, Laura Trott, and Joanna Rowsell of Great Britain celebrate with their Gold medals during the medal ceremony for the Women's Team Pursuit Track Cycling Finals after breaking the World Record on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Velodrome on August 4, 2012 in London, England. (Photo credit: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

  • GOLD - Track Cycling, Team Sprint

    Great Britain's (left to right) Jason Kenny, Philip Hindes and Sir Chris Hoy with their gold medals for the team sprint in the track cycling at the Velodrome in the Olympic Park, London. (Photo credit: PA)

  • GOLD - Cycling, Men's Team Pursuit

    Great Britain's Ed Clancy (left), Geraint Thomas (right), Steven Burke (second left) and Peter Kennaugh celebrate with their Gold medals in the Men's Team Pursuit Final during day seven of the Olympic Games at the Velodrome, London. (Photo credit: PA)

  • GOLD - Women's Double Sculls

    Great Britain's Katherine Grainger (left) and Anna Watkins celebrate winning gold in the women's double sculls at Eton Dorney Rowing Lake, Windsor. London Olympic Games - Day 7

  • GOLD - Men's Canoe Double

    Great Britain's Tim Baille (l) and Elienne Stott receive their gold medals in the mens canoe double final. (Photo credit: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.)

  • GOLD - Cycling, Men's Individual Time Trial

    Gold medalist Bradley Wiggins, of Britain, celebrates on the podium after the men's individual time trial cycling event at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012, in London. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

  • GOLD - Rowing, Helen Glover and Heather Stanning

    Helen Glover and Heather Stanning Team GB Olympic Gold Medalists for Women's rowing on stage at the BT River Concerts in Hyde Park in London. (Photo credit: PA)

  • GOLD - Men's Rowing Four

    Great Britain's Andrew Triggs Hodge, Tom James, Pete Reed and Alex Gregory celebrate on the podium after winning the gold medal for the men's rowing four in Eton Dorney, near Windsor, England, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • GOLD - Lightweight Women's Rowing Double Sculls

    Great Britain's Katherine Copeland, left, and Sophie Hosking show their gold medals for the lightweight women's rowing double sculls in Eton Dorney, near Windsor, England, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • GOLD - Shooting, Double Trap

    Great Britain's Peter Wilson with his gold medal after winning the Double Trap Mens Final at the Royal Artillery Barracks, London. (Photo credit: PA)

  • GOLD - Cycling, Women's Keirin

    Great Britain's Victoria Pendleton celebrates with her Gold medal after winning the Women's Keirin Final at the Velodrome in the Olympic Park, during day seven of the London 2012 Olympics. Picture date: Friday August 3, 2012. (Photo credit: PA)

  • SILVER - Mixed Doubles

    Great Britain's Andy Murray (right) with Mixed Doubles partner Laura Robson after the Victory Ceremony at the Olympic Tennis Venue, Wimbledon. (Photo credit: PA)

  • SILVER - Women's 400m

    Great Britain's Christine Ohuruogu celebrates with her silver medal in the 400m final at the Olympic Stadium, London. (Photo credit: PA)

  • SILVER - Women's -78kg Judo

    Great Britain's Gemma Gibbons celebrates after winning Silver in the Women's -78 kg Judo Final at the Excel Arena, London. (Photo credit: Julien Behal/PA Wire.)

  • SILVER - Men's Canoe Double

    Great Britain's David Florence and Richard Hounslow (silver medals) celebrate with Tim Baille (2nd r) and Elienne Stott (r) (gold medals) in the mens canoe double final. (Photo credit: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.)

  • SILVER - Rowing, Lightweight Men's Four

    Great Britain's Chris Bartley, Richard Chambers, Rob Williams and Peter Chambers in win silver the final of the lightweight men's four at Eton Dorney Rowing Lake, Windsor. (Photo credit: Stephen Pond/PA Wire.)

  • SILVER - Swimming, Men's 200m Breaststroke Final

    Great Britain's Michael Jamieson celebrates his Silver medal following the awards ceremony for the Men's 200m Breaststroke Final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park, London. (Photo credit:PA)

  • SILVER - Equestrian, Three-Day Eventing

    Nicola Wilson, Zara Phillips, William Fox-Pitt, Kristina Cook and Mary King show off their silver medals at Hyde Park in London. (Photo credit: Ian West/PA Wire)

  • SILVER - Lightweight Men's Rowing Double Sculls

    Great Britain's Mark Hunter, right,and Zac Purchase embrace after winning the silver medal for the lightweight men's rowing double sculls in Eton Dorney, near Windsor, England, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

  • SILVER - Women's Road Race

    Great Britain's Lizzie Armitstead with her Silver medal following the Women's Road Race at The Mall, London, on the second day of the London 2012 Olympics. (Photo credit: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.)

  • SILVER - Men's RS:X Sailing

    Great Britain's RS:X Nick Dempsey celebrates after winning the Olympic Silver medal after today's final race in the series at Weymouth. (Photo credit: PA)

  • SILVER - Star Class Sailing Team

    Great Britain's Star class sailing team of Iain Percy (left) and Andrew Simpson after receiving their silver medals today. (Photo credit: PA)

  • SILVER - Men's Pommel Horse

    Great Britain's Louis Smith celebrates with his Silver medal after coming second in the Men's Pommel Horse Final, at North Greenwich Arena, London during day nine of the London 2012 Olympics.

  • SILVER - Cycling, Women's Sprint

    Great Britain's Victoria Pendleton celebrates with her Silver Medal after winning silver in the Women's Sprint, in the Velodrome at the Olympic Park, on the eleventh day of the London 2012 Olympics. (Photo credit: PA)

  • SILVER - Women's 470 Sailing Great Britain's Hannah Mills (right) and Saskia Clark celebrate winning the silver medal in the Women's 470 class at the Olympics sailing venue in Weymouth and Portland. Picture date: Friday August 10, 2012. Chris Ison/PA Wire

  • SILVER - Men's 470 Sailing Great Britain's Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell (right) celebrate winning the silver medal in the Men's 470 class at the Olympics sailing venue in Weymouth and Portland. Picture date: Friday August 10, 2012 (Chris Ison/PA Wire

  • SILVER - Men's Welter Weight

    Great Britain's Freddie Evans with his silver medal after losing to Kazakhstan's Serik Sapiyev during the Men's Welter weight Final on day sixteen of the Olympic Games at the ExCeL, London. (Photo credit: PA)

  • SILVER - Women's Pentathlon

    Great Britain's Samantha Murray, with her silver medal which she won in the Women's Pentathlon at Greenwich Park, London, on day 16 of the Olympic Games. (Photo credit: PA)

  • BRONZE - Men's High Jump

    Great Britain's Bronze Medalist Robert Grabarz at the Men's High Jump medal presentation, on the twelfth day of the London 2012 Olympics. (Photo credit: PA)

  • BRONZE - Rebecca Adlington - 800-meter freestyle swimming

    Britain's Rebecca Adlington in the women's 800-meter freestyle swimming final at the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

  • BRONZE - Cycling, Men's Individual Time Trial Road

    Bronze medallist Christopher Froome of Great Britain celebrates during the victory ceremony after the Men's Individual Time Trial Road Cycling on day 5 of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 1, 2012 in London, England. (Photo credit: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

  • BRONZE - Artistic Gymnastics

    Great Britain's (from left to right) Sam Oldham, Kristian Thomas, Max Whitlock, Louis Smith and Daniel Purvis on the podium after winning the Bronze medals during the Artistic Gymnastics team final at the North Greenwich Arena, London, on the third day of the London 2012 Olympics. (Photo credit: PA)

  • BRONZE - Rowing, Men's Eight

    Great Britain's mens Eight crew of Alex Partride, James Foad, Tom Ransley, Richard Egington, mohammed Sbihi, Greg Searle, Matthew Lanridge, Constantine Louloudis and Phelan Hill pose after winning a bronze medal at Eton Dorney Lake, London. (Photo credit: PA)