Sky Sports News examines if London 2012 inspired more people to take up sport

Last Updated: 06/12/12 4:00pm

One of the key pledges in London winning the right to host the 2012 Olympics was to get more people in this country playing sport on a regular basis.

But now that the Games have come and gone - did they have the desired effect?

Figures released by Sport England claim more people are playing sport at least once a week; they claim that 15.5 million people aged 16 or above are playing sport at least once a week - that's a rise of three quarters of a million on this time last year, with the biggest rise among women.

Read the full story here...

Meanwhile, Sport Wales have published their own research suggesting there is a lack of participation in sport by gay lesbian and bisexual people as they believe it's an unwelcome and unsafe environment for them.

Sky Sports News took a closer look at the reports and gathered reaction them, starting with Sport England itself...

Jennie Price, Sport England chief executive

"I think a participation legacy from the Games - getting more people playing sport - was always going to be quite a challenging thing and it's great that these figure s today show that it is beginning to happen. We get six months' worth of data over the last day or so and at it shows is that particularly for the three months after the games the figures took quite a sharp jump, so it does seem that for some sports there has definitely been an Olympic effect. Two things happened in the last six months - we had the Olympic games and we also had the wettest summer in Olympic memory and because we count the amount of sport that people play once a week, every week, if fixtures are cancelled, if pitches are waterlogged, they can't play. So we wanted to see an increase and it's fantastic that it's this large. It indicates that people really wanted to get out there and play sport.

"The sports that women like most are some of the sports that are showing the strongest growth - so cycling, for example, and swimming which is beginning to recover. It had dropped but it's getting better. Netball isn't an Olympic sport but has done an absolutely fantastic job of selling itself, particularly to younger women. So I think sports that are appealing to women have both done well in the Games and also have done a good job in getting under the skin of what the people who play them want out of the sport."

Laura McAllister, Sport Wales chairwoman

"There are some really exciting findings in relation to lesbian and gay people in sport in Wales and this is something we feel quite passionate about because we don't want any child or adult to feel excluded from the fantastic experiences that sport brings.

"Some of the research shows that lesbian and gay people feel a little bit put off from going along to some of their local clubs - they are put off by some of the banter that surrounds sport and they just don't know enough about what opportunities there are to join in coaching and volunteering and, of course, taking part. What we are trying to do is break down some of those obstacles in the same way that we have with other areas of inequalities around race and disability and try to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to take part in what is a fantastic activity."

Nigel Owens, Welsh International Rugby Referee who came out in 2007

"My experiences are very positive; in fact the positives outweigh the negatives by a long, long way, but [homophobia] is an issue. I think it's probably more of an issue that the people themselves are frightened of coming out in that environment, rather than coming out and finding it to be unwelcoming. The biggest challenge, I think, is where we define what is a bit of leg-pulling, a bit of banter and what is homophobia and homophobic.

"We certainly need to get the message out to people of all ages that sport should be a place for anybody to take part in, no matter where you are from or what your background or who you are. If the banter does go too far, then we are not going to have people participating in sport. Sport is a huge part of our lives and it should be a huge part of our healthy lifestyle as well. A lot of it will be down to the individual because what is acceptable to me as a bit of leg-pulling and what I can go back to them with banter is different for different people."

Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport

"There is no doubt that the inspirational effect of major events always has a prolonged effect on participation figures but I think what was encouraging about these figures - and let's just say that we are on an upward path and we can sustain this - is that it actually relates to the period October to October, so quite a lot of these figures relate to a period before the Games and there is no doubt that Sky Ride and that type of thing have started to drive this.

"If you wanted to draw a general conclusion from this, sports that have carried on doing things 'the old way' are not making much progress. Sports that are innovative, that are forward-looking and developing commercial partnerships, that are using the marketing expertise that sometimes commercial firms can give them, are delivering their sport in a different way."

Alan Watkinson, Schools Sports Partnership Manager (and Mo Farah's PE teacher at school)

"Children are desperate to get involved - they have really got carried away with the Olympics; it was National School Sport Week last week and across the country and there's a real feel of excitement around the Games and post-Games they've come back desperate to stay involved. There is a concern and a worry that there are systems that aren't in place that need to be in place to harness that.

"We've got primary schools that don't have specialist PE teachers and I heard of a case this morning where a young boy from a primary school came home and said 'yeah, we had a PE lesson today' and week on week they'd had excuses like the field's too muddy, there's this, there's that. Unfortunately schools have other pressures in terms of exam results and league tables and it's easy to make the excuse to push sport to the side when in reality the health of them is really important."

Lord Coe, British Olympic Association Chairman

"They are wonderful figures - it's everything we said we wanted to achieve when we started this journey 10 years ago, when we won the right to stage the Games seven years ago. I always knew that if you had a fantastic opportunity to expose young people to sport and sport at the very highest level you would get an impact and the impact has been fantastic, particularly for young girls - because that has always been a challenging group. Right across the board, this is very, very good news."

Jessica Ennis, Olympic Heptathlon Champion

"We've had such a great summer and we've put on such a great show and created some great role-models for kids around the country; I think there was that worry that participation levels weren't quite where they wanted to be straight after the Games. But it always needs a bit of time - a few weeks, a few months or maybe a year - but to see that increase already, particularly in girls' sport - is really, really positive. As an athlete and a woman, I'm really happy to see those participation figures going up."

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