Huffpost UK Sport uk
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Mark Foster Headshot

Olympic Legacy Alive and Kicking

Posted: Updated:

Every week I will be here writing about sport and promoting health and fitness items as well as commentating on lifestyle issues that grab my attention. I hope you find it interesting.

The big news in the last couple weeks for sports fans was the launch of the new BT Sport channel. As with all new enterprises it is bound to have teething problems with getting the technology right and persuading viewers to sign up to an alternative way of viewing sports events. But this is a long game and I am convinced it will take off big time especially looking at the line up of events in the coming season. In particular, selected premier football games will start to attract growing numbers. (See btsport.com for schedules)

I am doing my bit on the Clare Balding Show, along with Katherine Merry and Ade Adepitan, to offer a weekly slot about a diverse range of sports items. (Every Thursday night at 8pm btw!) I did my first interview with Rachel Hayhoe-Flint, a pioneer of women's cricket, who proved to be an inspiring and fascinating woman. What a great way to get an education about the history of sport.

But the thing that got me really excited this week (in fact had me excited all summer) are the mass sporting events being held all around the country. Whether its fun runs, charity walks, cycle rides or just people turning out to watch events, I am just inspired to see so many people getting up and out just to take part. To me these are the sure signs that the Olympics have left a legacy.

The British Olympic Legacy... Alive and Kicking at grass roots level.

Ok I don't want to claim that community sports aren't facing real difficulties with regard to funding and keeping local facilities open, but it is worth publicising those events where local people are continuing to get involved in mass participation events, despite all the controversial funding issues.

These events are also showing even the most cynical of commentators, that even after the lucrative advertising opportunities that the Olympics created have disappeared, corporate business and sponsors are still putting effort and resources into getting communities and young people interested in sport.

Two such events close to my heart are Swim Britain and Join in UK.

Swim Britain is a British Gas sponsored programme that is a series of 4000m team swimming relays taking place around Britain this September. It is hoped that an estimated 10,000 people will take part in relays in swimming pools and open water facilities for the duration of the programme.

The initiative encourages teams of local people to get together and have a go no matter what their ability.

For younger or less confident swimmers there is the Little Swim Britain a 2000m team relay option at £29.00 per team, so anyone with a bit of enthusiasm and a lot of heart are encouraged to get involved.

Join in UK- Swimming.

And then there is Join In UK that promotes a wide range of mass participation sports across the country and last weekend I did my bit.

I joined swimmers at Tooting Bec Lido last weekend as part of the South London Swimming Club's Annual Plough Cup and what an inspiring event it was. Getting people interested fitness and sport of any kind is a passion of mine. I know how it helped me turn my life around and gave me a focus creating a life long passion. Ok, not everyone is able to become a professional sports person but any one can try it and see what it can do for them.

Join In started last year, on the weekend between the end of the Olympics and the start of the Paralympics, 300,000 people took part in the inaugural Join In by going back to where it starts for every great champion: their local sports club.

So the aim of Join In is to encourage people to help out at sports clubs and community groups around the UK.

So get in the water or whatever takes your fancy and give it a go!

Join In is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, government grant and by Official Partners BT and Lloyds TSB.

If you would like to know more about Join In, please email us at hello@joininuk.org.

Around the Web

A mixed Olympic legacy for UK plc - FT.com

Olympic legacy | UK news | The Guardian

Blow to Olympic legacy as fewer children take up sport - Telegraph

Celebrating the London 2012 Olympic legacy - News stories - GOV.UK

BBC News - Peckham Olympic legacy BMX track opens

Blow to Olympic legacy as fewer children take up sport

Olympic legacy questioned by UK small businesses

Young British milers start to build on the Olympic legacy