Two thirds of parents admit that the Games have failed to inspire children

Monday, 25 July 2011
By Emily Goddard

Steeplechase_19-07-11July 25 - Despite the prospect of a home Olympics next summer, a new study has revealed that 64 per cent of British parents admit that so far the Games have failed to fully ignite the imaginations of their children, particularly their interest in athletics.

While tickets for the men's 100 metres final may have been some of the most coveted tickets for the London Games, nearly two thirds of parents say their children do not regularly participate in athletics at school or outside school hours, according to the study by the official sponsors of UK Athletics SPAR.

However, as the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics edge ever closer with just over a year to go, a third of parents still believe that the Games will encourage their children to take up athletics, with this figure being supported by the recent Active People Survey carried out by Sport England, which claims that the number of children taking part in athletics at least once a week has risen by 4.5 per cent over the last two years.

Being able to socialise with other children their age and the thrill of winning are key elements of the sport that children will enjoy encouraging more to get involved, according to 66 per cent and 30 per cent of the people asked respectively.

Meanwhile, 39 per cent of parents believe that the ability to try a range of events which require different skill sets will also attract their children to athletics, with a further 29 per cent owing the success of the Olympic legacy to seeing their hard work and training pay off.

But, above all, the survey has indicated that there is still some way to go to encourage more children into athletics and meet the Olympic legacy commitments.

Jenny Meadows, the World 800 metres bronze medallist, says: "It's vitally important that we encourage more children to take up athletics, particularly at school.

"If we can foster an interest in the sport at this young age we will go some way to improving participation.

"I started my athletics career at school and have never looked back.

"As well as being great fun, athletics has taught me so much over the years from healthy living to discipline - all extremely important skills for children to learn."

In light of the new findings, SPAR are working with the European and world medallist to offer schools Sports Day Kits to help support Britain's athletes of the future, boost involvement and foster competitive athletics at grass roots level.

Schools who would like a SPAR Sports Day Kit - which includes participant bibs, finish line tape, posters and well done stickers - should visit their local SPAR retailer or apply online here

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