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Will Rio 2016 Inspire A Generation Desperately In Need?

25/08/2016 16:24 | Updated 25 August 2016

Rio 2016 has been the UK's greatest Olympic success in over a century. Will it inspire a generation desperately in need?

They cheered. Joe Joyce's silver medal, the UK's 67th, was being watched by a group of young men and women in my local park.

After a few whoops and hoorays, they went back to the outdoor exercise installation. Push-ups, pull-ups, punches and more, Rio 2016 has inspired them to get in shape.

Each medal won at Rio 2016 has cost the UK £4.4 million in funding. The result, as Liz Nicholl, CEO of UK Sport said, is that "We are now a super power in Olympic Sport".

Much of the conversation since has been on the cost of funding to Olympic Sports (although most comes from the Lottery Fund).

Is it worth it? Here in this park, watching young people come together to do calisthenics (body-weight exercise), the answer is definitely yes.

"I watch the gymnastics on my phone, then try to copy the routines here in the park," one person says, before showing me how they can swing from bar-to-bar.

"We can't afford professional training and there's no proper facilities here, but that doesn't stop us" says another, "the Olympics has been incredible."

People have been inspired by the Olympics in ways that cannot be measured. There is no official governing body measuring how many people are coming to this park. There is no registration list. There is not even a website. Yet here they meet at 12PM everyday and help each other develop strength, fitness and flexibility. What's more, it's free (Kilburn Grange, London).

Gold in Men's Volleyball and Football, Mo Farah and Lynsey Sharpe, as well as 63 more medals, will push a generation further than ever before.

"It's been, like, the only good thing in so long", Gemma from Kilburn says. For the entire Olympic fortnight she's been coming to the park and training with friends. She hopes to join a gymnastics club in Camden, London soon.

For a generation hit with record high student debts, extortionate rents, and now a Government back-track in help-to-buy ISAs, Rio 2016 has been a welcome break.

Ahmed, who organises the meetup, says, "It's good to focus on something else for a change. Here, we can help each other progress in areas that we're in control of. And look at the result! It's such good energy here, and people are enjoying themselves."

Exercise in the park is free and can never be quantifiably measured by those questioning the levels of funding put into Olympic sport. Here though, today, we can see the indirect benefits. It's a fantastic deal and one this generation is desperately in need of.

Tom Church is a author of Money's Big Secret and Director of LatestDeals

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