Games winners inspire women to take up sport

Legacy hopes borne out by poll

More than four in 10 young women have been inspired to become more active by the Olympic success of Team GB.

The exploits of athletes such as Jessica Ennis, Nicola Adams, Kath Grainger and Laura Trott during the Games have ignited the desire and determination of women of all ages to take up sport, according to a nationwide poll.

The results boost hopes that London 2012 would spark a lasting legacy and come as sports clubs up and down the country are opening their doors to new recruits. Tens of thousands of people have sampled different sports over the Join In weekend continuing today.

Val Rocha, 22, from Brixton, south London, decided to start boxing 10 days ago, after watching Nicola Adams take gold. She tried the sport at Miguel's Gym for the first time last Wednesday and has already been back three times.

"Seeing women that proficient inspires you to try new things that are not necessarily advertised to women. I had always wanted to try it I just never got around to it," she said.

Martha Lawton, 33, from north London, said watching the Games had inspired her to go back to swimming, a sport she loved as a child. "I really got into the Olympics, even though I have never really been interested in sport.

"I haven't done much sport since leaving school. It had been in the back of my mind to start swimming again, but I have got back in the pool as a direct result of the Olympics.

"I plan to keep it up as I do really enjoy it and I can fit it into my life. Once I got back in the water, I realised that the swimming technique I had when I was younger was still there, and I remembered how much I used to enjoy it."

Swimming silver medallist Sharron Davies, travelling on a Join In battle bus yesterday with gold-winning decathlete Daley Thompson, said: "The Olympics have shown sport is for everyone; women got the first and last medals of the Games.

"It gives really good role models. You're not talking about a Wag who wants to get money quickly, but about somebody working hard to achieve something and earn respect."

A poll for the Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation (WSFF) found that among women aged between 16 and 34, 41 per cent agreed that the Games have inspired them to become more active. Overall the Ipsos Mori poll found that 30 per cent of all women felt the Olympics had prompted them to do more exercise.

Sue Tibballs, the chief executive of WSFF, said: "These past two weeks have been the perfect boost for women's sport and could be seen as the moment where the profile of women's sport changed for ever.

"Having female athletes such as Jessica Ennis, Nicola Adams, Kath Grainger and Laura Trott as role models is fantastic. But it is essential that we do not let the legacy of 2012 fade away. This is the first evidence that the Olympics can result in a boost to participation rates among women."

The results will be welcomed by the Games organisers who adopted "Inspire a generation" as their motto, against a background of falling numbers of women taking up sport. Over the past four years, the number playing sport between the ages of 16 and 24 declined by around 5 per cent, according to figures from Sport England. Half as many girl school leavers take part in the recommended levels of physical activity as boys, a trend which continues into adulthood.

Additional reporting by Rachel Roberts

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments