Olympics beginning to inspire a generation
Olympics beginning to inspire a generation

Record numbers of women and men in England are playing sport every week in the wake of the 2012 Olympics, according to figures released by Sport England.

A total of 15.5 million people aged 16 and over are now playing sport at least once a week – a rise of 750,000 across the year, over two thirds of whom are women – while 1.57 million more people are participating than when London won the Olympic and Paralympic bid in 2005.

The survey shows that cycling and sailing are among the fastest growing sports, with judo, hockey and swimming also enjoying an upsurge in popularity.

Sport England’s chief executive Jennie Price said: “We set the bar high in this survey, measuring only the people who play sport once a week, every week.

“These results show we are on the right track. I’m particularly pleased that many more women are taking up sports from netball and cycling to running.”

“Sport needs to work even harder to attract and keep young people. So the investment in individual sports we will be announcing before Christmas will be strongly focussed on getting more 16- to 25-year-olds playing sport.”

Minister for Sport and Tourism and Kent MP Hugh Robertson added: “One of the key legacy ambitions from London 2012 was to get more people playing sport -something that no other host city has managed to do. These are excellent figures and show that we are making good progress.”

Sport England plans to invest £10.2m of National Lottery investment into improving participation in disabled sport and in January made getting more young people aged between 16-25 involved in sport one of its central priorities.


Figures for 2010-2011 first, followed by 2011-2012:

Swimming: 2,809,300 – 2,933,100

Football: 2,117,000 – 2,126,800

Athletics: 1,899,400 – 2,033,700

Cycling: 1,761,200 – 1,962,000

Golf: 833,200 – 850,500

Badminton: 510,300 – 544,200

Tennis: 375,800 – 445,100

Equestrian: 312,600 – 331,000

Squash & Racketball: 284,800 – 263,200

Bowls: 219,800 – 214,100

There are small increases in swimming and football, while athletics participation – a cornerstone of Team GB success this summer – has risen by more than 100 thousand people a week.

Of the top ten, only Bowls, plus squash and racketball have suffered a decline in the last 12 month period.