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The Olympic Games are inspiring an increased interest in sport

August 8, 2012

The Olympic Games are here and as magical performance follows magical performance, the benefits of the decision to use the inspiration of a home Games to motivate more people to make sport part of their lives are already being felt.

In fact, the dividend for grassroots sport began before the Games as the number of people playing sport every week went over 15 million for the first time – an increase driven by a stronger focus on giving consumers what they want from sport, backed by significant investment. And now the intense spotlight on the magnificent members of Team GB is encouraging even more people to get involved.

Rowing, for example, is reporting a massive upsurge in enquiries to its grassroots Explore Rowing programme following the success of the women and men on the water at Eton Dorney. Talkin Tarn Rowing Club is working hard to introduce new people to their sport by holding a number of introductory courses to Rowing from Junior’s during the holiday period and new courses for Adults starting in September. Linda Wilson from Talkin Tarn Rowing Club said;

“We’re always keen to introduce new people to our sport here at Talkin Tarn Rowing club and with the success of our GB athletes we’re hoping the buzz and interest filters down to a local level and we can get more people enjoying the water by rowing with us on the Tarn.”

As our hockey teams perform heroics in the Olympic Park, the Hockey Nation campaign is bringing taster sessions to clubs and facilities across the country – including in the Olympic Park itself where 15,000 people have picked up a stick again in just 10 days. Penrith Hockey Club have seen a huge increase in their Junior section with 93 regularly training with them at Penrith Leisure Centre. Chair and head coach at the club, Marion Roberts said;

“We are a lovely friendly club and we’re fully affiliated to England Hockey and hold the EHBs prestigious Clubs First Award for excellence. We welcome new players boys and girls, men and women of all ages and abilities. Currently players are travelling over 20 miles to train with us which is just great for the club. We now have 93 Juniors and 20 Seniors and would love for the Games to have a positive impact on our club by increasing people who might be interested in hockey to get in touch.”

In cycling, for whom Bradley Wiggins began the gold rush, more than 1,000 people have signed up as members of British Cycling in just two weeks. British Cycling are holding a number of Olympic themed cycling activities during and after the Games. Local Lakeland Sprinters are holding a Go-Ride racing event and hoping to find the next Cavendish or Trott when they teach participants essential cycling skills and techniques and invite novice riders under the age of 16 to race against other new riders at Rowrah Kart Stadium on 15th August. Event Organiser Penelope Kingsland said;

“The event is for under 16s and we really hope that the success of our GB Cycling team has inspired some of the young people in Cumbria to think about getting on their bike and doing more cycling. Our Go-Ride event is one of many designed by British Cycling to encourage more young people into entry-level bike racing. I would urge any young person interested to come down to Rowrah and give it a go!”

Around the Weymouth sailing venue where Ben Ainslie became the greatest Olympic sailor in history, over 40,000 people have taken advantage of a Sport Arena offering sports from rugby union to volleyball and sailing to table tennis. Crucially every one of them will be contacted when they get home with support on staying involved in sport.

For those inspired by Jess Ennis or Mo Farah, more than 600 athletics clubs are holding community athletics legacy days in the weeks between the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Kendal AAC are holding an Olympic themed Athletics days at Queen Katherine School in Kendal on 14th August. There will be fun sports day races, family races, have-a-go-sessions and much more. This is a chance for young people to show off the Ennis or Rutherford in them.

All of the sports Sport England fund have plans in place to keep hold of these new participants by giving them a good experience.

Alongside the work of the individual sports, Sport England’s Places People Play legacy programme is bringing legacy benefits to every corner of England. Already, over 850 sports clubs, facilities and playing fields have benefited from £70 million of this National Lottery investment. All will carry the London 2012 Inspire mark – celebrating the link to the Games.

Sport England believe it is important to help a new generation to discover the right sport and are investing in the programmes to spot and then nurture those with the talent to emulate the likes of Jessica Ennis and Andy Murray.

Around a quarter of Sport England’s investment since London won the bid in 2005 has gone into supporting talented young athletes. As well as supporting talent identification and coaching, Sport England have invested in over 50 high performance centres around the country, including EIS Sheffield where Jess Ennis trains. The national centre at Lilleshall has received £16 million of investment, helping elite athletes based there such as Louis Smith and Beth Tweddle prepare for their medal-winning performances. In Cumbria, 15 projects valued at £2 million have recently benefited from National Lottery funding amounting to £1,021,307.

Jason Kenny, who sprung to prominence in Beijing, won his second gold of London 2012 on Monday. His rise has been stellar, but he started out on British Cycling’s grassroots programme Go Ride which links clubs with schools.

Sport England and Active Cumbria the Sport and Physical Activity Partnership believe that continuing to strengthen the ties between community sports clubs and schools is critical both to finding future Olympians and helping more young people develop a sporting habit for life. Under the Sport England strategy every English secondary school will be offered a community sport club on its site with a direct link to one or more sports. Having a community club within the school and linked to local sports clubs makes it easier for young people to choose to get involved in sport beyond the school curriculum and then make the move into their local club.

Bruce Lawson, Partnership Manager at Active Cumbria said:

“Sport England with support from the network of County Sports Partnerships across the country including Active Cumbria are determined to harness the excitement of the Games to continue this growth and the early signs are good. There's a long way to go on the legacy journey and everyone in sport now needs to work harder than ever to keep the momentum going. But we’re on the right road with participation rates in Cumbria increasing since the bid was won in 2005.

Active Cumbria are delivering number of exciting national projects all of which are contributing to help increase participation in sport. The partnership have been working with a wide range of partners to deliver Sport England’s Places People Play programmes across the county during the last 18 months with significant success. These programmes are funded through investment from the National Lottery.

• Sportivate is designed to increase the numbers of people aged 14-25 who take part in regular sport.
• Sportmakesrs is encouraging people aged 16 and over to devote 10 hours or more to volunteering and making sport happen.
• Gold Challenge looks for Individuals or teams to achieve an aggregate distance of 2012km or do 2012 minutes of sport before the Paralympic Games closing ceremony.
• School Games is the Government’s school sport Legacy Programme, which was launched this year and has already provided opportunities for thousands of young people in Cumbria.
• Community Games is supporting local events inspired by the games with resources and funding.
• Cumbria Talented Athlete fund has awarded grants to some of Cumbria’s most talented athletes across sports having support 84 to date giving out £25,000 in grants.

Active Cumbria have invested in a new website to make it easier for people to find local sports and activities. We now have over 800 opportunities listed and hopefully something for everybody at all levels of ability. ”

To find out what’s on offer in your local area go to or follow Active Cumbria on Twitter @ActiveCumbria

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