Olympics 'to inspire sport and health'

BRITAIN'S success at the Olympics will help to bolster sport clubs and improve the health of youngsters across the region, it has been claimed.

Anthony Bond

BRITAIN'S success at the Olympics will help to bolster sport clubs and improve the health of youngsters across the region, it has been claimed.

Sports organisations and Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) are hoping for a boost to the region's well-being following inspired performances by Team GB's stars in Beijing.

Tony Bush, from Suffolk Sport, said: “I am feeling very positive, particularly with the gold medal performances that have happened. We see the current Olympics and the London Olympics as a real platform for sport in Suffolk with increasing participation and really motivating people to play sport and volunteer as coaches. We see it as a real opportunity.


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“People generally have been saying to me that they are motivated to go out on a bike this week and I imagine that youngsters will be enthused and engaged with what is happening at the Olympics.

“There is a really good feel-factor around the Olympics and it is our role to help Suffolk Sport capitalise on that.”

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The East of England Strategic Health Authority recently revealed that nearly 10% of schoolchildren of reception age are classed as obese. Almost one in five children failed to take part in the recommended two hours of exercise a week - significantly below the national average. The profile also showed that only one in nine adults is physically active.

But Suffolk Primary Care Trust is hopeful that Britain's Olympic success can help improve the county's health.

Sally Hogg, head of health improvement partnership for NHS Suffolk, said she hoped the ''feelgood'' factor would encourage people of all ages to try something to keep fit.

In November a Healthy Ambitions Suffolk project will be launched to urge people to improve their diet and increase their exercise and she said she hoped this scheme with a 20-year vision would reduce obesity.

Ian Cotton, chairman of Suffolk County Amateur Swimming Association, said: “I think the Olympics has been very successful in pushing the sport forward and certainly with the next Olympics being in London there is a real good feel-factor about the sport in general.

“We expect a rise in the number of people participating in swimming. Clubs are hoping for a boost and a number of pools have been busier over the summer. We are even seeing an increase in adult swimming lessons at the moment. I think the health agenda has been on the radar for a while but the Olympics has added to that.”

Tim Butler, of Ipswich Bicycle Club and East Cyclo-Cross league, added “I think the Olympics will raise the profile of cycling, we have already noticed our membership numbers have gone up.

“It has been a really positive few weeks for British sports and we have seen numbers booming in our cyclo-cross league.

“It is encouraging to see a boost in the number of youngsters as well, at the Mildenhall rally this weekend we are expecting a good response after Victoria Pendleton's gold medal.”

Adam Baker, Suffolk Project Manager for 2012, said the success of the British team was inspirational for young people and he wanted promising young athletes to be identified and developed.

''We want to get more young people active on the back of this and use the Olympics as the platform to inspire these children.

''We want to ensure there is a legacy from the games and, post 2012, we want to be able to look back and ask what difference they made in getting more people active and reducing obesity,'' he said.

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