Participation boost after Olympics

  • Last Updated: December 6 2012, 12:28 GMT

The impact of London's staging of the Olympic and Paralympic Games has led to record numbers of men and women playing sport every week, according to figures released by Sport England.

London 2012 has boosted participation.

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The Active People Survey results covering the year to October 2012 show that 15.5million people aged 16 and over are playing sport each week, a rise of 750,000 compared to a year ago and an increase of 1.57million from when London won the right to host the Games in 2005.

The largest increase has been among women, with 500,000 taking part in sports such as cycling, netball, running, swimming and going to the gym.

The effect of a hugely successful Games for the host nation, where stars such as Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, David Weir and Sarah Storey captured the public's imagination, can be seen in increased participation levels after the Games, with cycling, sailing and volleyball gaining a boost in numbers.

More disabled people are taking part in sport at least once a week, but participation levels still lag behind those for non-disabled people, with Sport England hopeful a National Lottery investment of £10.2million can help to cut the gap.

Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour de France and also added time-trial gold in London, one of 12 medals secured in cycling at the Olympics.

And Sport England's figures show an increase of 200,000 people who are cycling once a week compared to October 2011, bringing the total number of people in England now cycling at least once per week to just under two million.

British Cycling chief executive Ian Drake said: "With almost two million people cycling once a week following a summer of unprecedented cycling success, this is our legacy in action.

"British Cycling has set new standards in elite sport and, with these latest figures from Sport England, we can celebrate gold medal results in grassroots participation.

"These figures are reward for the hard work done over the last four years by British Cycling, Sport England, our principal partner Sky and our local government partners.

"After Beijing, British Cycling set out to inspire a new audience to get involved in cycling at all levels. We have programmes for all ages and abilities - from families who want to cycle for fun, to young people aspiring to be the next Bradley Wiggins or Laura Trott.

"The great results we've seen today are also critically down to the dedication of all our members, regions, volunteers, coaches, clubs and leaders - without whom our sport wouldn't function."

Locog chairman, and new British Olympic Association chairman, Lord Coe had pledged to inspire a generation with the hosting of the Games, but the number of 16-25 year-old's participating in sport had fallen since 2005.

People among that age bracket are the most active group in society, but raising participation levels has been a struggle, with an increase of just 30,000 playing sport once a week from the previous set of figures.

The issue is being targeted by Sport England and a five-year Youth and Community Strategy unveiled in January has made the participation of young people a priority.

Two-thirds of sports measured in the survey have seen a growth in participation levels, but cricket was among the grassroots sports to suffer due to the wettest summer for a century.

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