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Sport England reports participation 'surge' ahead of 2012 Games

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Image: Hockey is among the sports to benefit

Sport England has reported a "surge" in participation ahead of the 2012 Games, with the number of people in England playing sport regularly topping 15 million for the first time.

New research from the organisation has found that 15.28 million people aged 16 and over compete in sporting activities at least once a week - an increase of 500,000 in six months.

The figure is also 1.3 million more when compared with 2005/6 when London was chosen to host the 2012 Games, with 21 sports showing a positive trend in the last six months.

Olympic sports such as cycling, football, athletics and hockey have reported "particularly strong growth". The number of disabled people taking part in sport has also grown.

Sport England chief executive Jennie Price said: "This is a strong set of results, with all of the key measures showing participation in sport is increasing.

"As we approach the London Games some of our key sports such as cycling and hockey are already beginning to feel the Olympic effect."

The growth has been primarily driven by people aged 26 and over and while there has been an upturn in the 16-25 group over six months, a "long-term downward trend" still remains.

However, a £1bn youth and community sport strategy was launched earlier this year, which includes every secondary school across England hosting a community sports club.

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt added: "Going forward, governing bodies will target the 14-25 year old age group to do just that and strengthen grassroots sport across the country."

Details: www.sportengland.org

Image: Donald Linscott/shutterstock.com

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Sport England has reported a "surge" in participation ahead of the 2012 Games, with the number of people in England playing sport regularly topping 15 million for the first time.
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