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Olympics boost sports activity in South West

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 11, 2012

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Britain's success at the London Olympics and Paralympics has produced a surge in grassroots sports participation in the region, research has found.

More people than ever are playing sport every week in the South West and across the country, according to a survey by Sport England.

More than 1.5 million people aged 16 and over in the region participate in sport each week – an increase of 22,300 on last year.

Some 35.8 per cent of people in Devon and 35 per cent of people in Cornwall play sport each week – increases from 2005 when Britain won the bid to host the 2012 Games.

In England 15.5 million people take part in sport at least once a week– a 750,000 rise in the past 12 months.

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

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 focused on getting more 16 to 25-year-olds playing sport."

Other figures for the region showed increases in sports volunteering, club membership and organised competition.

More than 1 million people in the South West belong to a club, and almost 400,000 volunteer to support sport for at least one hour a week.

Meanwhile, Active Devon surpassed its target for sports participation in the county.

The body managed to recruit 1,400 volunteers to act as "sports makers" – people who help deliver sport by organising or leading sporting activities – beating its target by 500.

Active Devon development assistant Charlie Keene said there had been a big increase in participation following the London Olympics.

"We have seen more interest and far more requests from people," she said.

Minister for Sport and Tourism, 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."

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