City sports clubs set for post-Olympics boost

CITY sports clubs are gearing up for a post-Olympics boom in the aftermath of Great Britain's most successful Games in more than a century.

Tuesday, 23rd August 2016, 7:35 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd August 2016, 8:38 am
Dan Wallace helped Team GB to an Olympic silver medal. Picture; Getty

Organisations across Edinburgh said they were expecting membership bounces of up to 25 per cent as the sporting event drew to a spectacular close over the weekend.

And Edinburgh Leisure, the arms-length council body in charge of the Capital’s sports facilities, revealed it was preparing for an influx of residents using its centres.

A spokeswoman said: “Using the 2014 Commonwealth Games as a comparison, the Royal Commonwealth Pool, for example, saw an upsurge of eight per cent in August 2014 compared to August 2015 of new members joining, and an upsurge of four per cent in September 2014, compared to September 2015, much of which we might attribute to the Commonwealth Games inspiring the people of Edinburgh to try a new sport.

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“Although it is probably a bit too early to say, with the Games only finishing this weekend, we would expect to see a similar uplift.”

Sports clubs also predicted a raft of new members. Fiona Anderson, head coach at Inverleith Amateur Swimming Club, said it experienced a membership rise of around 25 per cent following London 2012.

She said the club was hoping for a similar boost this time round, adding: “Once the schools get fully back then we may get an increase again.”

And Laurel Bailey, head coach at Warrender Swimming Club, said it had already received “quite a lot of inquiries” in the last two weeks as interest picked up during the Olympics.

Team GB scooped 67 medals this year, making it the first nation to improve on its performance four years after hosting the Games. And the staggering haul – which included 27 golds – makes Rio our most successful Olympics since 1908.

The final medals table shows Team GB second only to the United States, who achieved 121 medals and 46 golds.

We told yesterday how calls are growing for a large-scale public celebration to mark the achievements of Scotland’s Olympic heroes, with ideas including an open-top bus tour.

June Peebles, chief executive of Edinburgh Leisure, said: “Sport is a powerful vehicle for change – we see the positive impact it has on people’s lives on a daily basis.

“Therefore, I welcome anything that inspires people to get involved in sport. One cannot help be inspired by the performance of the athletes in Rio – I do hope that inspiration turns into motivation to start moving, move more, achieve more.”

On Sunday, former Olympic swimmers will be giving free lessons in Edinburgh as part of a campaign to help people improve their front crawl and get fit.

Silver medallist Michael Jamieson and Olympic and Commonwealth champion James Goddard will be on hand at Nuffield Health Edinburgh Omni from 10am.