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

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?