Olympic Games sparks sporting frenzy in Soho
By poppy_smith | Saturday, August 11, 2012, 08:31
The Games have sparked a sporting frenzy in central London, as Westminster City Council reports more members of their sport and leisure centres than ever before.
Latest figures show that visits to Westminster's eight leisure centres have soared past the 1 million mark since the start of the year, as Londoners are seemingly getting caught up in Olympic fever.
To capitalise on the surge in interest in sport that the London 2012 Games have sparked in central London, Westminster City Council is offering 450 hours of free sport events and activities at six of its eight leisure centres on the days of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Westminster's Parkour facility, which opened on 12 January this year is the first dedicated facility in London and the world's largest, has also seen phenomenal interest since the start of the Games.
Councillor Steve Summers, Deputy Cabinet Member for Sport and the Olympics said:
"It's very encouraging to see Londoners taking up the challenge of sport and following the example of some of our medal-winning athletes.
"We can't let this golden opportunity go to waste, we want to build on this great start and the inspiration of Team GB and get more people involved in more sports in Westminster.
"That's why we're planning to expand the number of community sports facilities in Westminster from 19 to 27 in the next five years. We're also offering free swimming for young and elderly residents; giving community groups two hours of free access to sport and leisure facilities and ensuring all secondary schools and academies give community groups access to facilities to encourage better participation."
Council leisure centres are also offering classes and facilities for the sports that Team GB have excelled in, including:
• Table Tennis
To encourage Westminster residents to get involved in sport on their doorstep, the council has also introduced 12 Legacy programmes to help youngsters in Westminster make the most of what's on offer during and after the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Westminster Council's 2012 sports legacy programmes are part of the ActiveWestminster initiative, which has received the LOCOG Inspire Mark. Westminster's full legacy programme includes:
• Neighbourhood sports programme – promote 100 hours of free sport every week for young people
• Active early years – encourage participation in sport for under-9s in Westminster
• Promoting 'everyday activity' – encourage residents to get involved in 'everyday' sporting activity – walking, cycling and gardening
• ActiveWestminster Mark and School sports clubs – Improve the number of quality community sports clubs in Westminster and establish a new school sports clubs in every school in Westminster
• Olympic-style school sports competition programme – to run 200 competition fixtures each year as part of an Olympic-style sports competition
• Champions of the Future – help gifted and talented local sports stars to progress through free access to facilities, mentoring and training
• Free swimming programme – offer free swimming for young and elderly residents
• ActivePlaces – two hours of free community access to sports and leisure facilities in Westminster
• Community use of sports facilities – help schools and academies to get community groups involved in sports and leisure facilities
• Volunteering – help volunteers to promote participation in sports volunteering
• Teachers – develop and deliver joint training programmes to ensure school sport is of the highest quality
• Parks and open spaces – develop a new team of 'Park Makers' to promote and lead on sports and physical activity sessions in Westminster parks and open spaces