By Tom Degun

mo-farahDecember 6 - Record numbers of women and men in this country are playing sport every week following London 2012 according to new figures in the Sport England Active People Survey revealed today.

Figures show that 15.5 million people aged 16 and over are playing sport at least once a week which is 750,000 more than a year ago.

The number of people taking part in sport has risen sharply in the period since the London 2012 Games got underway with particularly strong increases in Olympic sports such as cycling and sailing.

The strongest growth has been among women with an increase of over 500,000 in the past year that has helped cut the gender gap in English sport.

Sport England chief executive Jennie Price admitted she was particularly pleased with the figures, which she said were undoubtedly influenced by London 2012.

"What we can do with these figures is really break them down, month by month, so we can measure exactly when people are playing sport," Price told insidethegames.

"We have seen the London 2012 has given a real boost and that it has inspired people to actually go out and take part sport, particularly Olympic sports.

"We set the bar high in this survey, measuring only the people who play sport once a week, every week and these results show we are on the right track.

"But even though the London 2012 gave a boost, it is not just the Games that have caused this growth.

"There are really strong participation schemes from all the sports like netball, where we have seen a rise despite the fact that it is not an Olympic sport.

"So I'm confident that this is real growth and that we can continue it."

Price continued that young people will now a key target for Sport England.

Young people aged between 16 and 25 are the most active in England but increasing participation among this age group remains tough which is why it will be the priority for Sport England's five-year strategy that will be announced in January.

"Sport needs to work even harder to attract and keep young people," she said.

"So the investment in individual sports we will be announcing before Christmas will be strongly focussed on getting more 16 to 25-year-olds playing sport."

Frost SportsYoung people aged between 16 and 25 will be the priority for Sport England’s five-year strategy which will be announced next month

The figures also showed that participation by disabled people has been rising steadily since 2005 when London won the bid for the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics although it is still far below that for non-disabled people.

That is part of the reason why Sport England announced a £10.2 million ($16.4 million/€12.6 million) National Lottery investment into disability sport earlier this week.

But overall, the results of the survey are a positive boost for Sport England following London 2012 and the figures have been welcomed by Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson.

"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," he said.

"These are excellent figures and show that we are making good progress."

Two thirds of the sports measured by the survey have shown a positive trend over the past year with athletics, judo, hockey, netball and swimming among those growing in popularity.

Cricket was among the grassroots sports that suffered, which is largely due to the fact that it was the wettest summer in England for a century.

To read the full report pdfclick here.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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