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- 08 October 2013 00:00
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Helen Grant, a former junior judo champion, has replaced Hugh Robertson as Sports Minister as part of Prime Minister David Cameron's cabinet reshuffle.
Grant, who is the current MP for Maidstone and The Weald, previously worked at the Ministry of Justice and on women's and equality issues.
The 52-year-old solicitor, who is the Conservative Party’s first black female MP, will join up with Culture Secretary Maria Miller at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
It marks the first time ever that women have held the Government’s two cabinet sports jobs.
"Absolutely delighted to have been asked by @David-Cameron to take both the sports and equalities briefs,” said Grant on her Twitter page following the appointment.
Meanwhile Robertson, who has been Sports Minister for three years, moves to the Foreign Office in what has been widely viewed as a reward for helping successfully deliver the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
The move ends 50-year-old Robertson’s near-decade involvement with sport as either Sports Minister or Shadow Sport Minister, in which he has drawn huge plaudits for his work.
"Hugh leaves behind a strong legacy from the outstanding success of London 2012," said UK Sport chairman Rod Carr.
"We now look forward to working closely with new Sport and Equalities Minister Helen Grant as we move towards the Sochi Winter Olympics and Rio 2016."
But despite the personal boost for former military man Robertson, his departure from the DCMS raises questions about the seriousness with which the Government is taking sport post-London 2012.
Robertson is a high-ranking Minister of State, while Grant is very much a junior minister, having been part of the 2010 intake of MPs and having so far served as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary for both justice and equalities.
The fact she retains the latter portfolio is a tribute to her work in that field but also a suggestion that sport is not the priority it was prior to 2012 for the Prime Minister.
She will serve as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport and Equalities, whereas Robertson was Minister of State for Sport, Olympic Legacy and Tourism before his move to the Foreign Office.
However, Grant boasts a strong sporting background.
Born in London to an English mother and Nigerian father, sport formed a key part of her upbringing and she was an under-16 judo champion for the North of England and Southern Scotland.
Grant’s personal website also lists tennis and sporting events among her hobbies.
Her main task as Sports Minister will be to ensure that the London 2012 legacy promises are fulfilled at both elite and grassroots level, particularly within schools following the recent restoration of £150 million of Government funding.