April 25 - Sprint king Usain Bolt is set to be the most popular and inspirational athlete for United Kingdom residents at London 2012, according to new research.
The London Sport Global Inspiration Survey, launched by London & Partners, shows that London 2012 is creating a lasting global sporting legacy in terms of encouraging people to participate in sport.
The 25-year-old Jamaican (pictured top) shot to global fame at Beijing 2008 when he scooped gold in the 100, 200 and 4×100 metres relay events, all in world record times.
It is predicted he will achieve similar feats at London 2012 while helping to spearhead public interest in the Games.
Such remarkable successes have made Bolt hugely even more popular among UK residents than Britain's top athletes and the research showed that 28 per cent of people are inspired to watch him.
Some 23 per cent of those surveyed favour watching Spanish tennis star and reigning Olympic title holder Rafael Nadal while the same number prefer seeing America's swimming icon, Michael Phelps, the 14 times Olympic champion.
Others who figure prominently in the results include rising stars such as American basketball player Jeremy Lin (with 20 per cent and British cyclist Mark Cavendish 13 per cent.
The survey also shows that celebrations across London and at over 40 official National Olympic Committee Houses across the capital will help drive up interest among the public, with more than one in four adults - 28 per cent - from sampled nations feeling inspired to begin swimming and one in five - 20 per cent - considering taking up cycling.
To capitalise on this interest, plans are already in place to launch a new world-class cycling event in the city – cycling's equivalent of the London Marathon.
There is particular excitement in London 2012 from China with a huge 69 per cent of the population primed to watch basketball during the Games.
Both modern and historic sporting locations serve as the most inspiring Olympic venues with 23 per cent of respondents keen to see the Olympic Stadium, 18 per cent the Aquatics Centre and the same number for Wimbledon (pictured above).
Around half of visitors to London aim to visit a museum or historic building with 53 per cent planning to visit a tourist attraction, such as Madame Tussauds, and 57 per cent set to go to a park, river or public space.
Retail should also experience a significant boost with world-famous shopping locations, such as Harrods (pictured above), Selfridges and Oxford Street, ready to welcome more than 40 per cent of visitors to London 2012.
"During the Games a festival atmosphere will fill the streets of London with numerous opportunities for the public to experience the spirit of the Games even if they don't have tickets," said Iain Edmondson, the head of the major events team at London & Partners.
"After 2012 people will be able to turn the inspiration of the Games into participation by entering London's world-class mass-participation events such as the London Marathon, London Triathlon and a new road-cycling event."
London & Partners is the Official Promotional Organisation for London 2012.
For the full list of NOC Houses available to the public, and what is going on in London throughout 2012, click here.
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