Games prove to be lasting sporting incentive

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THe Olympic legacy is thriving in Yorkshire – as a record number of people are have become more active, according to Sport England.

About 1.6m men and women across the region are now taking part in a game or activity at least once a week, according to figures released by the government agency.

That is 60,000 more than last year and 200,000 more than in 2005 when the capital won its bid to host this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Across the country, a survey found 15.5m people aged 16 and over are playing sport at least once a week – 750,000 more than last year and 1.57m more than in 2005.

The strongest growth has been among women, with an increase in participation of more than half a million in the past year.

The number of people taking part has risen sharply in the period since the Games began, with strong increases in Olympic sports such as cycling and sailing, the agency said.

While participation in cricket suffered as a result of the wettest summer for a century, two thirds of the sports measured by the Active Lives Survey showed a positive trend over the past year.

Athletics, judo, hockey, netball and swimming were among those growing 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.”

Participation by disabled people has been increasing steadily since 2005, but still lags far behind that of others, the survey found.

Sport England this week announced a £10.2m National Lottery investment to tackle this.

The agency will also soon be announcing more spending on individual sports to encourage more 16 to 25-year-olds to get involved.

Sport and Tourism Minister Hugh Robertson, , said: “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.”